Another member of the blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry family, is the marionberry. Also known as the waldo berry, this delightful berry is another West Coast treat. These berries are actually an Oregon-exclusive delicacy. At first glance, blackberries and waldo berries look identical. In fact, the waldo berry technically is a blackberry, as it’s the hybrid between two different blackberry varieties, the chehalem and oallieberry.
Food and Wine provides a succinct differentiation between marionberries and blackberries: marionberries are one of the more recent iterations of the blackberry, as they were first cultivated in 1948 by Dr. Waldo and then taste-tested in Marion County. It’s pretty clear where the two names of the berry come from. Marionberries have an earthier yet complexly rich flavor and were bred to have a firmer texture to allow for better shipping. It seems like all the pins are set up for the waldo berries to surmount the throne and, as Food and Wine described, take their place as the “king of the blackberries.”
For the time being, however, they remain Oregon’s not-so-hidden secret. A little more than half of all blackberries grown in the damp state are marionberries, and as NPR describes, there is a certain “obsession” surrounding the fruit in Oregon state. If looking for a little taste, it’s best to turn towards one of the many regional products like marionberry beer.