Sorry Oregon, the secret's out!
Summertime is (almost) here and with it comes a bounty of everyone’s family of fruit, berries. While you can get many types of berries year around–we’re looking at you, strawberries and blueberries–there are certain types, like blackberries, that peak during the summertime.
There’s one particular berry, though, that is truly the summertime fruit, as it’s harvested in mid-July, the marionberry. This Oregon-specific fruit looks almost identical to the common blackberry, though. So, are they the same? Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
They are two different species of the same genus.
Marionberries and the common blackberry (also known as the Allegheny blackberry) are both members of the blackberry family. However, while the common blackberry is a species that has been around for thousands of years, the marionberry is a recent hybrid of two other types of blackberries, the Chehalem and the Olallieberry.
They have different origins.
While the common blackberry is native to much of North America, South America and Europe, the marionberry was developed in Corvallis, OR in 1948 by Dr. George Waldo. The berry was then tested in Marion County and the name quickly became associated with the new fruit.
They grow in different places.
While marionberries are often described as the "king of the blackberries," they’re still exclusively grown in Oregon. The 28 to 33 million pounds of marionberries that Oregon produces each year make it the most common blackberry in the state and it accounts for more than half of Oregon's entire blackberry crop. The common blackberry, however, continues to grow both naturally and on commercial farms around the world.
They look and taste (slightly) different.
Marionberries are often described as having a complex, rich and earthy flavor that is both sweet and tart. Compared to the common blackberry, marionberries also have a firmer texture, which allows them to ship better as well. However, very few marionberries leave the state as Oregonians go crazy for them each summer.