Inspector Indigenous – Nikki Brighton
Common name: Silver Bramble; Zulu name: unomhloshane, itshalo, imencemence; Afrikaans name: Wilderbraam; Sotho name: monokotsoai-oa-basali
While landowners expend much effort on clearing the invasive American Bramble from their properties, finding the pretty indigenous version is always a delight. It occurs in rocky outcrops on grassy hillsides in small colonies. The fruit is not as sweet or abundant as its American relation, but very delicious and certainly worth getting pricked for. Rubus is part of the rose family that many of our favourite fruits like apples, pears, cherries, plums, almonds and strawberries belong to. In the golden grassland, the green, deeply toothed leaves with woolly white under surfaces are usually quite obvious. Crushed leaves are used to make ink. The flowers are pale pink to light red, followed by purple berries covered in a white down. Powdered roots are used in traditional medicine for indigestion and colds and to ease stomach ache.
Another indigenous bramble found in the Midlands is Rubus rigidus, also with woolly undersides to the leaves and small orange berries which make good jelly.