Both raspberries and blackberries produce annual shoot growth, known as canes, from a permanent root system. Some varieties have spines, but some do not. The key point of difference is that raspberries are picked off their inner core, while the fleshier core remains in harvested blackberries.

The plants need shelter, good water and light, but do not need heat to produce a crop.

In traditional varieties, flowers and fruit were only produced after the plants went dormant over winter. However, some varieties and odd species have been used to develop some of the modern varieties where flowering and fruiting takes place in the first growing season (known as primocane-fruiting).   This has allowed raspberries to be grown in many areas that were never cool enough for getting that dormant period. The result is that the season for raspberry fruit production is now determined more by locality and latitude, than by the calendar dates for summer in traditional production areas in south-eastern Australia. There are still new varieties that continue to conform to the traditional model, and whose production contributes to an intense peak of availability through the December-January festive period.

With blackberries, although there are now some similar developments in breeding such varieties, it is true that varieties are predominantly those that fruit after a winter dormancy, and therefore need to be grown in places that experience cool
temperatures in winter.

Luckily, there is enough diversity amongst blackberry varieties that they can be obtained from November to April.