PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — They’re called the “Cabernet of Blackberries” and are one of Oregon’s signature fruits.

Marionberries, known for their flavor and aroma, are named for Marion County. They’re a cross between the Chehalem and Ollalie varieties and account for half of all blackberries grown in Oregon and highlight a wide variety of Oregon berries.

OSU scientist George Waldo bred the marionberry in 1945 (OSU)

The marionberry was bred in 1945 by an Oregon State University scientist named George F. Waldo. He worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service at OSU, a relationship that dates to 1917.

Oregon’s berry industry is worth well over $100 million. For OSU’s Javier Fernadez-Salvador, the industry’s connection to the university has been critical as has its connection to the state’s farmers through the OSU Extension.

“At the point when marionberries were released in 1957, “the industry needed a variety that has good fruit qualities, including flavor, the right flavor profile to be processed,” Fernandez-Salvador said. “Oregon State University has been a fundamental part of the development of all agriculture in Oregon.”

The Marion Blackberry by George F. Waldo, 1957

And one of its crowning achievements is the marionberry.

This is the heart of the marionberry harvest season, which runs through the end of July. If you get some marionberries at fruit stands or u-pick spot, OSU experts say you should eat, freeze or use them right away.

A variety of taste treats using marionberries (Oregon Berry Association)