Blackberries Vs. Black Raspberries: What's The Difference?

While most of us may not be able to recite the dictionary definition of a berry off the top of our heads, we'd say we know one when we see one. Turns out, we may not!

Berries are defined, according to Britannica, as "a simple fleshy fruit that usually has many seeds, such as the banana, grape, and tomato." The entry for berries goes on to explain that "berry" is often used in a more general sense to describe any small edible fruit, but that raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries aren't actually berries at all.

What? Why isn't a blackberry a berry? When you make a southern blackberry cobbler, what are you using if not a berry? Blackberries and raspberries are technically aggregate fruits, meaning they're a cluster of small fruits. Each tiny, individual section of a blackberry is actually its own little fruit, and Mother Nature has conveniently packaged a bunch of them together for us to devour. But what, exactly, is the difference between a blackberry and a black raspberry? We're glad you asked!

Blackberries: big, glossy, and easy to grow

The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) classifies the blackberry, Rubus fruticosus, as an invasive species, and notes that in the US, it's included on the federal list of noxious weeds.

Interestingly enough, it's also widely grown commercially because the berries are so darn delicious. The Rubus genus, WebMD tells us, is known as the family of bramble plants, and it includes other berries like raspberries (both red and black) as well as other edible berries.

Blackberry bushes are typically covered in prickles or thorns, though thornless varieties have been developed, according to Britannica. Blackberries are relatively large, with glossy black sections and an edible green or white core (per Specialty Produce).

When ripe, they're both sweet and tart, with a little earthiness. Blackberries can be eaten raw or in a variety of cooked applications, from pies and cobblers to decadent sauces, both sweet and savory. Blackberries are good sources of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, according to Verywell Fit.

Like most berries, blackberries are fairly fragile, but Specialty Produce tells us they grow year-round in the US, with their peak season in the summer. If you see black berries in the grocery store, they're almost certainly blackberries, rather than black raspberries.

Black raspberries: small, matte, and fragile

Like the blackberry, the black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) is a member of the Rubus genus. However, Specialty Produce explains that black raspberries are much smaller than blackberries; they're typically only about one to two centimeters in diameter. The other big difference from the blackberry is that the black raspberry, like all raspberries, is hollow in the center.

The berries themselves are aggregate fruits, but they tend to be matte, rather than glossy black, and you may find some irregular red pigmentation. Black raspberries may also have a harmless white "bloom," that can be wiped off but doesn't affect the flavor.

The black raspberry is relatively rare. Black raspberries, which are commercially grown primarily in Oregon, have a very short season of just a few weeks in the summer, and the berries are both fragile and very perishable. Black raspberry bushes don't have a very big yield, and they don't last many seasons.

So why would anyone bother to grow them? They're ridiculously delicious. More intense in flavor than other raspberries, black raspberries are sweet-tart, with earthy-woodsy notes. Black raspberries are similar to blackberries nutritionally, but also contain most of the B vitamins and are a particularly good source of folate (per Verywell Fit).

If you're lucky enough to get your hands on a good quantity of black raspberries, they're delicious devoured fresh, or as a decadent swap for red raspberries in this citrusy raspberry cheesecake.