Brambles & Blackthorn

Brambles/blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) and Russian/mile-a-minute vines (Fallopia baldschuanica) are two of Burgess Park’s most robust and vigorous growers. Park gardeners work to cut them back periodically, so that they don’t crowd out their less vigorous neighbours.

Brambles, or blackberries, are native to the UK and are important for many kinds of wildlife. Their pink flowers provide nectar for honey bees, butterflies, and other insects in May and June. Caterpillars eat the leaves. Foxes, birds, and humans eat the berries. Blackberries keep some leaves through the winter, and their dense, semi-evergreen, thorny thickets provide good shelter for animals all year round. 
Brambles can reproduce three ways – by the seeds in their berries, by rooting the tips of canes as they bend over and touch the soil again, and by spreading underground- suckers develop on their lateral roots.  Bramble seeds pass unharmed through the digestive system of birds — germination may actually be enhanced by this process.

Russian, or “Mile-a-Minute” vine originated in Asia, and was brought here as an ornamental garden plant. It has “escaped” into Burgess Park, and its frilly white blossoms with red stems now cover much of this corner in the summer. Its leaves drop in winter. When cut back vigorously and repeatedly, it can form a useful hedge for wildlife to shelter in.


Part of the restoration effort in 2017 involved coppicing this thicket of blackthorn, or sloe (Prunus spinosa). One of the first shrubs to flower in the spring, blackthorn’s white blooms are an important early food source for pollinators. In the summer, caterpillars feast on its leaves, and birds enjoy its dark berries in the autumn. In the winter, its bare branches can be identified by their distinctive, architectural, right-angle patterns. Be careful — its sharp thorns can be toxic! Sparrows, other small birds, and foxes, use this thicket for shelter. Can you spot the fox tunnel?

This QR Code is part of our Woodland Trail

High-rise development threatens Burgess Park’s precious woodlands.
Support our Crowdfunder to allow us to assess the impact & challenge the plans.

Burgess Park has beautiful woodlands which are vital for local wildlife. They are a precious resource in an urban area. We fear that plans for tall buildings on the edge of the woodlands will reduce the sunlight and change the habitat. 

We need to fully understand what impact tall buildings would have.
Help us raise funds for an independent wildlife report that we can present to Southwark’s Planning Committee. We want to raise £3000 by the end of May 2021.

See our Crowdfunder for more info.

Help protect our Metropolitan Open Land – one of the final pieces of the Burgess Park Jigsaw

On the west edge of Southampton Way Woodland at the entrance to Burgess Park is an area of derelict land used for what was supposed to be temporary scrap-yards & car-washing.

This land has been designated as part of the protected Metropolitan Open Land of Burgess Park for over 30 years, as the council steadily CPO’d (Compulsory Purchased) the various bits of privately owned land, designated to be the park for local people, in the original Abercrobie Plan after WW2.

This is one of the final pieces of that precious jigsaw.

However, a developer has bought an option on the site & are suggesting up to a 6 storey residential tower-block on this entrance to the park.

The council had promised to CPO the site but has yet to implement the promise.

Find more information and sign the petition below.

Read our woodland blog over at Friends of Burgess Park