Blackberries grow in areas of the South where summers are not too dry and winters not too harsh. They thrive along the eastern coast, as well as in the cool-night areas of the Appalachians, Ozarks, and Blue Ridge Mountains.
Upright (erect) types tend to be hardy and stiff caned; they usually grow 46 ft. high. Trailing kinds, known as dewberries or boysenberries, are more lax plants that need support. Crosses between upright and trailing types are termed semierect. Canes of most blackberries are covered with sharp thorns.
All types bear fruit in summer. The fruit clusters of trailing plants ripen earlier and are smaller and more open than those of erect or semierect types. The fruit makes excellent pies, fine jams and jellies, tangy syrups, and even good wines.
The following are some of the top blackberry selections for the South. Plants are deciduous, except as noted.
'Apache'. Erect, thornless canes bear a large crop of large, late-ripening berries with fine flavor. Good vigor and hardiness.
'Arapaho'. Erect, thornless. Large, firm berries ripen 3 weeks before 'Navaho'. Disease resistant. Will grow in north Florida.
'Black Satin'. Semierect, thornless, vigorous. Shiny black, very tart fruit. Does better in Upper and Middle South.
'Boysen' and 'Thornless Boysen'. Most commonly grown trailing types. Large, reddish berries with sweet-tart flavor, delightful aroma.
'Brazos'. Erect. Productive, disease resistant, with large, fairly firm, tart fruit. Good for mild-winter areas such as Texas, Florida, Gulf Coast states.
'Cherokee'. Erect, thorny. Firm berries with excellent flavor. Resists anthracnose. Heat tolerant. Good for Gulf Coast, north Florida.
'Chester'. Semierect, thornless, heavy bearing, and resistant to cane blight. Very cold tolerant. Best in Upper, Middle, and Lower South.
'Cheyenne'. Erect. Vigorous and moderately thorny. Large, firm fruit with very good flavor. Excellent for freezing. Resistant to rust.
'Chickasaw'. Erect, thorny canes. Very productive. Large fruit.
'Choctaw'. Erect. Ripens early, producing berries with excellent flavor and very small seeds. Heat tolerant.
'Darrow'. Erect. A heavy bearer, with large berries ripening over a long season. Best in Upper, Middle, and Lower South.
'Dirksen'. Semierect, thornless selection with large, sweet, glossy black berries. Resistant to anthracnose, leaf spot, and mildew. Good selection for Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
'Flordagrand'. Vigorous, thorny evergreen canes are somewhat trailing. Large, tasty berries. Well adapted to hot, humid summers and mild winters. Plant with 'Oklawaha' for best pollination.
'Gem'. Trailing, thorny canes. Excellent berries. Resists rosette.
'Hull'. Erect, thornless. Heavy bearing, with large, glossy black fruit that holds up well in heat. Best in Upper, Middle, and Lower South.
'Illini Hardy'. Erect, very thorny. Cold hardy. Introduced by University of Illinois. Best in southern Midwest and Upper South.
'Kiowa'. Erect, vigorous, very thorny. Extra-large fruit matures over a long season. Performs well in areas where 'Shawnee' succeeds. Resistant to orange rust. Among the best in tolerance to viral diseases.
'Natchez'. Erect, thornless. Early, heavy yield of large, firm berries. Good disease resistance.
'Navaho'. Erect, thornless. Firm, sweet fruit that ripens late. Resistant to rosette but susceptible to orange rust. Heat tolerant. Will grow in north Florida.
'Oklawaha'. Trailing. Vigorous, partially evergreen to evergreen. Developed for Florida and other areas with hot, humid summers and mild winters. Large, good-tasting berries. Best production when planted near 'Flordagrand' for pollination.
'Osage'. Thornless, erect. Firm, glossy fruit with excellent flavor. Lasts well after harvest.
'Ouachita'. Erect, thornless. Large, sweet fruit that lasts well in storage. Resembles 'Apache.'
'Prime Jan'. Erect, thorny. Fruits on new canes in late summer and 2-year-old canes in spring. Very productive. Medium-size, sweet-tart fruit. 'Prime Jim' is similar, but with slightly less sweet fruit on an even more erect plant. Poor performers in Texas. 'Prime-Ark 45' has very sweet fruit that lasts well in storage. 'Prime-Ark Freedom' is erect and thornless, with very large, flavorful berries.
'Rosborough'. Erect. Resembles 'Brazos', but fruit is smaller, sweeter, ripens earlier. Heat tolerant. Good choice for Texas.
'Shawnee'. Erect. Heavy crop ripens late, over a long period. Large, glossy, sweet black berries. Very susceptible to rosette.
'Thornfree'. Semierect, thornless canes bearing large crop of tart berries. Productive from Maryland south to North Carolina and west to Arkansas.
'Triple Crown'. Semierect; late. An improved 'Chester' type with large, very flavorful berries. Vigorous canes. Susceptible to rosette. Best in Upper, Middle, and Lower South.