Nature on our doorsteps: Brambles, a treasure trove for biodiversity
By Rosaleen Dwyer
In autumntime, we make delicious jams and tarts from blackberries.
Throughout the entire year however, dense patches of thorny Bramble are an absolute lifeline for hundreds of other creatures.
Brambles offer nesting sites for birds like robins, wrens, and blackbirds, while also providing hiding places for hedgehogs, rabbits and field mice.
Bramble’s flowers attract pollinators like honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, hoverflies, moths, and flies.
Ladybirds and Lacewings also visit, hunting aphids amongst the leaves.
All these insects attract bats, and because Bramble’s flowers continue to bloom into late autumn, the feeding season for all of these insects and bats is often extended.
Insects, caterpillars, and larvae also eat Bramble’s leaves. The larvae of leaf miners live between the top and bottom surfaces of the leaf.
These munch a tunnel all around the leaf, leaving squiggly patterns behind.
Bramble’s sprawling growth also offers ‘scaffolding’ for spiders’ webs. Webs are particularly noticeable on damp autumn mornings when they are covered in dew.
As a species, Bramble itself shows huge diversity in its own genetic makeup.
Its Latin name is Rubus fruiticosus agg., where the ‘agg.’ means that there are many types and hybrids of Bramble all grouped together (or aggregated) under this group name.
This genetic diversity helps the plant to adapt to the many challenges it faces while being a treasure trove for biodiversity.