I lived in Washington, D.C., in the early ’90s, when Marion Berry was the “mayor for life.” Then he got caught smoking crack with women of questionable repute. Not so good for the political career (although, amazingly, he returned).
So when I hear about marionberries, it always makes me think of dodgy politicians rather than succulent fruit. But I eat them nevertheless, because they’re so delicious.
You probably do, too, since the “marion” is the most common cultivar of blackberries. It’s a cross between Chehalem and Olallie berries, the latter of which grow abundantly in local backyards and are the sweetest and largest of the caneberries that I’ve tasted. A friend recently picked 5 quarts in one go, from a single garden.
Dewberries, boysenberries, loganberries, and tayberries are other blackberry relatives, and you can find scads of these wild fruits around Sacramento. Olallies seem to be some of the first to ripen, but keep your eyes on the abundant bushes along the American River Parkway, and get there before the deer and cyclists. You’ll be richly rewarded.