Himalayan Blackberries: The Invasive Plant that Tried to Overtake Peace Memorial Park

Copy of Lloyd EcoDistrict - peace memorial park work

By Joshua Baker

A perennial that blooms from June- August, the Himalayan (or Armenian) blackberry (Rubus discolor, R. procerus, R. aremeniacus) can grow up to more than 20-feet per season and produces reddish canes or spines. With serrated leaves, these plants usually have white-to-light pink flowers with five petals. Out of all the harmful invasive plants in Western Oregon, the Himalayan/Armenian blackberry poses the most threat and is unfortunately also the most widespread. Not only does it cost millions to control in agricultural areas, forests, and right-of-ways, but it also poses a threat to riparian habitats and displaces native species.   

Even Peace Memorial Park has been severely impacted by blackberry bushes. When it was originally built, Peace Memorial Park had a great view of downtown. Over the years different invasive trees (black locust), shrubs, and other plants have obscured it. Removal of these invasive plants and trees are not only an important step in restoring some of the grand views but instrumental in establishing more native species in the coming years. This May, we were able to significantly remove a large portion of the invasive blackberries and many of the invasive black locust saplings.

This invasive removal would have also not been possible without a grant from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD). The EMSWCD is a unit of local government serving Multnomah County that works on a completely voluntary, non-regulatory basis to keep water clean and conserve water as well as to keep soil healthy. The EMSWCD offers many programs and services to urban and rural communities such as grants toward conservation projects and an education and Land Legacy program to help protect agricultural and natural resource lands. A shout out to the Ground Score Association, too. We were able to hire them to remove over 1000 lbs of trash from the blackberry bush area so that we could get the work done. Check out some of these before and after pictures:

This work is just one step in a long process to fully rebuild and restore Peace Memorial Park. We’d love for you to be involved! Be it through joining our Peace Memorial Park Memorial Day  or June 26th cleanups or through taking in the beauty of Irene Ramirez’s pollinator and rose-themed chalk artwork at this year’s Porch Parade from May 31st to June 13th. 

Our work wouldn’t be possible without the generous donations we receive from our community members (and grants from organizations like EMSWCD) so if you are able, please consider supporting our work at Peace Memorial Park by donating to our Go Fund Me page here