What are Marionberries?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Marionberries are a berry cultivar developed in Oregon. They are named for Marion County, a region where the berries were extensively tested during their early years. They continue to be widely grown in this region of Oregon. Marionberries are exported throughout the world during their growing season, and there are a number of marionberry products produced in Oregon, ranging from jam to barbecue sauce.

Marionberries are often combined with raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to make jam.
Marionberries are often combined with raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to make jam.

These berries are the result of a cross between Chehalem and Ollalieberry cultivars. These two cultivars are also hybrids, blending features of blackberries and raspberries. Marionberries have a very full, sweet flavor which some people describe as "summery," with a hint of tartness at the finish. They are a bit more sturdy than blackberries, making them more suitable for commercial production and marketing because they are less subject to rot and bruising.

Marlonberries are often eaten as part of a fruit salad.
Marlonberries are often eaten as part of a fruit salad.

Marionberries are cane berries, growing on long canes with a trailing growth habit. These berries have been bred to produce in high volume, another feature that makes them ripe for commercial sale. They're at their peak of ripeness in July and are longer than they are wide, with a rich ruby-red to almost black color. Although tougher than blackberries, marionberries are delicate and very juicy. That delicateness means they have to be harvested by hand, not machine, which contributes to their somewhat higher cost.

This berry cultivar was formally introduced to the world in 1956 by George F. Waldo. It is one among a broad assortment of berries introduced at around this period in Oregon and along the West Coast of the United States. Marionberries are designed to thrive in the cool, damp environment of Oregon, and they can also be grown in parts of Northern California and Southern Washington. Some garden stores carry marionberry canes for cultivation, and they can also be ordered through companies which specialize in cane berries.

There are many ways to use marionberries. They can be used just like blackberries in jams, cobblers, pies, and fruit salads. They can also be eaten out of hand, blended into berry sauces for savory and sweet foods, baked into breads and other sweet treats, and pureed in smoothies and berry drinks. Marionberries freeze very well, for cooks who like to have a stock on hand, and they can also be pureed for easier freezing, if cooks intend to use the berries in pureed sauces or smoothies.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My marions are a mess. Can I cut them all the way back and will they come back next year?


Marionberry plants can be purchased from Fry Nursery in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina.


Is there a seedless marionberry?


marionberries must be pruned to the ground after they fruit. the cane dies after fruiting. then the new cane is trained onto a trellis and fruits the next year. the first year cane is called a primocane, the second year it is called a floricane.


How far down do you prune the marionberry cane?


@cellmania: Yes, you can make jam with them. You would make it just as you would any other caneberry, such as blackberries, loganberries, or boysenberries. You can make jam or even marionberry jelly.

It is very delicious!


Does anyone know if they are good for making marionberry jam?


@dega2010: I'm not sure about buying them in your area but there are several websites that sell Marionberry plants and ship them to you.

They are sold as tissue culture plants. They come in 9 cell-pack containers. When you order a quantity of one, you are receiving 9 plants.


Sounds yummy! I read in your article that it says the berries thrive in the western part of the United States. I live in the Deep South (Alabama to be exact). Where would I get some of these berries?

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