The Great Marionberry

June 28, 2008

Many of you may think I'm talking about the scandalous former mayor of Washington, DC, Marion Barry, but I am not. I'm talking about the succulent Pacific Northwestern fruit, the marionberry.

The marionberry was introduced in 1956 at my alma mater, Oregon State University, and developed in Marion County. While they grow throughout the Pacific Northwest, 90% of the world’s crops are grown around the Marion County area. There are few spots in the world where caneberries (the blackberry family) grow and thrive, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon provides the perfect climate: a moist spring followed by hot summer days and cool nights.

These aren't just any old ordinary blackberry, their flavor is far superior, even to Boysenberries. The marionberry is a cross between two hybrids - the smaller, tasty Chehalem and the larger high-producing Ollalie - and is big, fat and distinctively sweet.

Marionberries usually reach their peak around mid-July, but since we experienced a much colder spring this year in the Pacific Northwest, all berries are just starting to come out in their full glory. Soon marionberry aficionados like myself will be out picking 'til our lips, tongues and fingers are stained purple. Our pantries will be filled with marionberry jams and syrups, and our tables laid with pies and fresh home-made ice cream.

Oh, summer in the Pacific Northwest is grand!



Barnaby Dorfman's picture

I had a slice of marionberry pie last night, it was delicious!

marc's picture

mmmmmm...memories of driving over high cascade passes and finding old mom and pop diners serving fresh marionberry pie! mmmmmmm

growitgreen's picture

I am so homesick for the west coast. I am from the Puget Sound, Washington. Now living in the south east. One of my fondest childhood memories is berry picking with my family, followed by the mess of jam making.

Nina's picture

My first experience with the marionberry was in Portland back in the 90's. I had the best marionberry margarita ever. I am still looking for another. I wish we could have one together.

Melanie D's picture

I haven't tried that marionberry. Too bad, we do not have it here. A marionberry will do though.