The Blackberry or Bramble is a member of the rose family and it makes a great habitat for many birds, insects and spiders - not forgetting that it produces delicious, juicy, black berries in August and September.
It is a plant that can be quick to colonise new areas of grassland because the seeds are carried in the gut of mammals and birds - that's why the fruit is so delicious. One of the main distributors of the seeds is the Badger and at this time of the year you can see their black latrines which shows they are feasting on Blackberries.
Another reason for its success is the armoury of sharp prickles protecting it from grazing animals and also helping it to climb over itself and other plants.
In May the mass of flowers provide so much pollen and nectar for a huge number of insects, including bumblebees and butterflies - like this Painted Lady.
May is also the month when the Bramble is a great soundscape of birds nesting in it - Cettis' and Sedge Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroats (photo) and Linnets.
The Cuckoo is a regular visitor to feast on the hairy caterpillars of Brown-tail Moth that are large when the birds first arrive back from Africa in April. The caterpillars overwinter in family groups in silk tents constructed in September by an army of the tiny, first stage caterpillars.
It's not just the birds that are noisy in the Bramble, if you have young ears, or a bat detector you'll hear all sorts of mechanical noises - in the second half of this video below, with the bat detector plugged in you can hear the repetitive constant sound of Short-winged Conehead in the grassy edges of the Bramble and also the harsh clicks are the Speckled Bush-cricket hidden in the bushes.
This is what a Speckled Bush Cricket looks like.
By late summer most leaves show distinctive spotting of the Violet Bramble Rust and if you hold the leaves up to the light they can form interesting patterns.
On the other hand, Bramble can be invasive and turn a wildlife rich grassland into a monoculture, so in trying to maintain a mosaic of habitats at Rye Harbour we manage the Bramble by cutting, grazing and some careful spot spraying. On some parts of the nature reserve we maintain rides that are like very long, narrow meadows with grassland flowers like Yellow Rattle, Tufted Vetch and Common Spotted Orchid - these rides provide walking routes and sheltered places for animals out of the frequent strong wind.
There are many microspecies of Blackberry, with slightly different shaped leaves and flowers, and if you sample fruits from different bushes you will appreciate that some are sweeter and juicier than others. Some secret bushes make the finest Apple and Blackberry Crumble....