HELP..invasive Illini Hardy Blackberry

8 years ago when I moved to this property I was researching best tasting cultivars of various fruits, and despite my better instincts, I went for the Illini Hardy Blackberry …planted 25 of them in a double row of 12 /13 because the advertisement stated they tasted better than the thornless varieties. They failed to produce well, but I left them , year after year to give them another chance. I now know that the flavour differences between varieties is insignificant and each variety different but hardly “better”. I have certainly found my various thornless varieties just as good. But I can’t seem to get ahead of this stuff it pops up everywhere and is threatening to go into my Marquette grape mini vineyard…I do not want to disturb my grape roots trying to get rid of this stuff. The Grapes are on black plastic and the Blackberries were originally along the edge outside the black plastic…but one has popped up just a few feet from one of my grapes …through the black plastic and , in the area outside the black plastic where they were originally planted, I have been using a pick axe to dig them for the past 2 years…there are fewer robust plants .(woody stumps) but tfresh green ones are still popping up. Is there something like a stump remover herbicide that I could paint on after cutting the stalk so that it would be carried down to the root and kill the root ? I understand this is done in the fall when nutrients are being stored in the roots for winter…?I am against all herbicides but I doubt that spot painting some stumps would result in much soil contamination to speak of( I also have sumac I am dealing with but I find even that is more manageable than blackberry)


I myself like the thorny blackberries much better, but to each his own! I would paint round up on them, anytime too. Just be careful. If anything is hit you do not want dead, hose it off, it only works on leaves for the most part. So washing worked for me, I sprayed a small quince plant by mistake, and washed it off, and it never even showed any signs I did anything. Good luck! Use a generic roundup as they have a much larger concentration. The brand name sucks! Check percentages and buy the one with the most.
I don’t like using it either, but I agree in this case it is needed. I mix my own in a dedicated pump sprayer. Only roundup goes in it. I rarely use it. I hand pick weeds on a daily basis, I would rather do that and it’s a pain! But it gives me something to do, and a way to stay in the garden. When I’m in the garden I feel tranquil.


I would try Tordon. Definitely wouldn’t spray it if it’s close to your grapes though.

Tordon, bad idea !

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Good luck, everything I’ve read has been saying it’s a constant battle once they get established. Chemical treatments that get absorbed into the roots seem to be the best bet, but then they still recommend tilling/digging up any roots that you can, then repeat with more chemicals as any suckers start to emerge for the next couple years.
When you replant, try a raised bed, 12-18” deep, or bury 6” of the box into the ground to form a barrier. That’s what I plan on doing if I ever put my plants into the ground. I currently have to use large containers or have above ground beds since I don’t have any open ground. If I get to ripping up some of my parking space to plant in, I don’t want them growing under the fence and invading my neighbors.

I sympathize. At some point in the past, somebody thought it was a good idea to grow Himalayan blackberries in my region.

I’ve heard those are the worst invasive in the U.S. up here its japanese knotweed. turns fields into a jungle of 8ft. bamboo like thickets. I’ve yet to know anyone that has successfully destroyed it.

I’ve heard that one can inject round-up directly into knotweed stems, though I’ve never tried it.

My grandmother had knotweed in her back yard and we killed it over the course of 2 years by us grandchildren just breaking it all off and mowing over the rest (pieces). It did require us being diligent (3 families lived in the same neighborhood and there were a dozen of us kids taking turns.



Hey Andrew,

My name is Luke and I live up in Alaska where we are Zone 4. I’ve been scouring the interweb for Illini Hardy Blackberries. Is there any way you’d be willing to part with some for a desperate-for-blackberries- family in AK? I can’t find these anywhere!

I have a row of ilinni blackberries that I got from StarkBrothers back in 2003.


Below is how Stark describes them…

Wild-blackberry flavor! Developed by the University of Illinois for northern growers. Plants survive temperatures down to -23º F. Upright growth habit makes this variety easy to maintain in tight spaces. Hardy and vigorous plants produce abundant crops of top-quality fruit. Ripens mid to late July. Self-pollinating.

The “Wild Blackberry flavor” is what got me to try them. Back at that time what I had heard of the tame blackberries was that they did not taste good, not like wild berries at all.

I would say the Stark Description is Dead On for me… except they do taste just like wild berries, but are much larger and sweeter and here in TN they start ripening mid June and if we get a few good rains will continue to produce fruit until early August.

They are showing the OUT OF STOCK…

For me… here in Tennessee Zone 7a, they have been fine berries. Love em.

Never ever been even close to invasive either. They hardly ever send up a cane more than a few inches from the crown.

I wonder if that is a Location difference ? I am in the south, not invasive ? but up north they are ?

Or perhaps I just have a older, perhaps a little different variety of Illini ?

They are prone to rosette / double blossom, and mine have some of that… but despite that they still produce lots of very nice berries every year.


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Oh sweet! And good to know! Yes I called a number of nurseries in the lower 48 and none have em. I think they aren’t selling commercially anymore. I’ll send you my address over email if you’d be up for sending a couple up this way. And no pressure for sure. Only do it if you have some extra canes lying around and you don’t have anything better for em.

Email is:

Sorry Luke…

I have never propagated my illini… they are very upright and I have never had any tip root or anything like that.

Also they do have rosette/double blossom and I hear it is very difficult to get rid of that. It spreads from florocanes to primocanes each year, so you will always have it. It showed up 4-5 years ago… from what I have read about it, it spreads from wild blackberries to your tame, and usually in especially wet springs (which we have a lot of those here).

I thought at first that the double blossom might kill them eventually… so I started a patch of Ouachata last spring in a different location. I will be eating my first Ourchata berries this year. Hope they taste good enough…

I love the taste of the Ilinni and so far despite the double blossom they continue to produce lots of nice berries.


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All good! I’ve got a call in with the folks at the Illinois extension where I think this kind originated from. I think they might be able to help me out.

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