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Genus Rubus Family Rosaceae

Description: Sprawling shrubs producing herbaceous canes, or rarely more woody climbers, aerial branches biennial or perennial; canes often arching or prostrate and rooting at the tips, generally armed with prickles. The first-year growths ('primocanes') commonly do not bear flowers; in the second year axillary canes ('floricanes'), with a different form of leaves, produce flowers and fruits.

Leaves mostly palmate or pedately compound, sometimes pinnate, rarely simple; leaves on primocanes commonly with 5 leaflets or rarely 3, leaves on floricanes more often 3-foliolate or simple; margins toothed, occasionally lobed; stipules narrow, free from petiole or fused at base.

Inflorescence racemose, cymose or paniculate, rarely flowers solitary. Epicalyx absent. Sepals 5, often reflexed. Petals 5, mostly white or pinkish, spreading. Stamens numerous. Carpels few to many on an elongated receptacle.

An aggregate fruit formed, receptacle covered with succulent, rarely dryish, druplets.

Photo Tanja Lenz


Other photo
Photo T.M. Tame

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 250 species, chiefly northern temperate regions. Australia: c. 25 species (c. 7 species native), all States except N.T.

Rubus pyramidalis and Rubus radula are previous names that have been misapplied. There is no currently accepted taxon for these names. The following key is based on Evans et al., Australian Systematic Botany 20: 187-251 (2007) with some modifications by John Hosking. Note that not all Rubus taxa can be keyed out as some of the Rubus fruticosus species aggregate are apomicts and additional taxa, either from Europe or originating in Australia, may be encountered. For species with fruit that ripen black, leaves with mostly 3 or 5 leaflets, and flowers in a panicle i.e. European blackberry species (Rubus fruticosus species aggregate) start the key at couplet 16, the exception being Cut-leaf Blackberry, Rubus laciniatus, with obvious deeply dissected leaflets. For species with fruit that ripen black, leaves with mostly 3 or 5 leaflets, and a subcorymbose inflorescence ie. American blackberry species start the key at couplet 14.

Text by G.J. Harden & A.N. Rodd
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Leaves simple (often broadly lobed)23
Leaves pinnate or palmate of 3–5, 7 or 9 leaflets (occasionally a simple leaf in the vicinity of the inflorescence)2
2Leaves pinnate of 5, 7, 9 or 11 leaflets, some leaves may have 3 leaflets3
Leaves of 3–5 leaflets, arranged palmately
                       Back to 1
3Lower surface of leaflets densely felted grey-green or grey-white4
Lower surface of leaflets not densely felted, green
                       Back to 2
4Petals white; fruit maturing red and of many (>10) carpels, raspberryRubus idaeus
Petals deep pink to red; fruit maturing red and of <10 carpels, or maturing black with >10 carpels
                       Back to 3
5Leaflets 3 or 5; petals deep pink; fruit usually of <10 carpels and maturing redRubus parvifolius
Leaflets 5, 7 or 9 (rarely 11); petals red; fruit with >10 carpels and maturing black
                       Back to 4
Rubus niveus
6Terminal leaflets 6–9 cm long; carpels of similar size and number to plants known as blackberry, maturing dark red to blackRubus loganobaccus
Terminal leaflets usually <6 cm long; carpels numerous, much smaller than those of plants known as blackberry, and maturing bright red
                       Back to 3
Rubus rosifolius
7Shrubs or scramblers with first year non-flowering primocane, inflorescences produced in second year; inflorescence terminal on floricanes; flowers bisexual8
Vines without differentiated stems or canes; inflorescence axillary; flowers unisexual
                       Back to 2
8Stems and twigs with dense bristles (look a bit like prickles but do not have a swollen base), prickles scattered sometimes obscured; leaves closely densely pubescent below, margins finely serrate, apex rounded; petals white; fruit initially green maturing yellowRubus ellipticus
Stems and twigs not densely bristly, prickles usually obvious; leaflets felted and/or pilose below, margins coarsely serrate or doubly serrate, apex acute to acuminate; petals white or pink; fruit initially green then orange or red and maturing black
                       Back to 7
9Leaflets deeply lobed and some cut almost to midrib, green below; petals pink, apex often notchedRubus laciniatus
Leaflets not deeply cut, green or grey-green to white below; petals white or pink, apex usually entire
                       Back to 8
10Flowers and fruit mostly <9 in racemose subcorymbose clusters on axillary shoots along the primocane11
Flowers and fruit mostly >8 in terminal paniculate inflorescence terminating floricane (Rubus fruticosus species aggregate)
                       Back to 9
11Lower surface of mature leaflets densely felted, grey-green to grey-white; ripe fruit red12
Lower surface of mature leaflets not densely felted, pilose, green; ripe fruit black (North American species)
                       Back to 10
12Terminal leaflets c. 7 x 5 cm; petals white; fruit of many carpels; raspberryRubus idaeus
Terminal leaflets 4–5 x 2–4 cm; petals pink; fruit, if formed, of <12 carpels
                       Back to 11
13Stipules 2-lobed, occasionally 3–4-lobed; fruit never formedRubus x novus
Stipules entire; plant forming fruit
                       Back to 12
Rubus parvifolius
14Low-growing plants to 1 m high; primocanes 3–4 mm in diameter, prickles 2–3 mm longRubus roribaccus
Robust plants to 2 m high; primocanes 8–10 mm diameter, prickles 3–6 mm long
                       Back to 11
15Terminal primocane leaflet widest at or below the middle, base cordate to subcordate, margin regularly serrate; only known from Southern TablelandsRubus philadelphicus
Terminal primocane leaflet widest at or above the middle, base rounded to broadly wedge shaped, margin coarsely serrate to biserrate; only known from NC and CC
                       Back to 14
Rubus laudatus
16Long-stalked, reddish, glandular hairs present, particularly in inflorescence, few or abundant (lens often desirable)17
Long stalked glands absent
                       Back to 10
17Lower leaflet surface green, scarcely felted, lamina surface usually visibleRubus polyanthemus
Lower leaflet surface grey-green, sparsely felted, lamina surface usually obscure
                       Back to 16
18Inflorescence axis densely erect pubescentRubus vestitus
Inflorescence axis pubescent but hairs not dense and erect
                       Back to 17
19Gland-topped hairs usually easily seen on floricane and primocane; prickles on primocane usually <5 mm long; terminal primocane leaflet usually <4 cm long; petals not crumpledRubus leightonii
Gland-topped hairs occasional on floricane and primocane; prickles on primocane up to 10 mm long; terminal primocane leaflet usually >4 cm long; petals usually crumpled
                       Back to 18
Rubus leucostachys
20High arching plants; petals white (or pale pink), elliptic, flat or only shallowly channelled (principal weedy blackberry in Australia)Rubus anglocandicans
Spreading plants; petals pink or white, broad elliptic to near orbicular, often cupped or crumpled
                       Back to 16
21Largest leaflets usually < 3 cm wide, lower leaflet surface densely white felted with few or no pilose hairs; older stems often pruinose, strong primocane prickles mainly on the angles of the stems; petals pink, near orbicular, cuppedRubus ulmifolius
Largest leaflets, usually >3.5 cm wide, lower leaflet surface varying from not felted to felted grey-green and with few to many pilose hairs; old stems not pruinose; petals pink or white, shapes various, usually crumpled
                       Back to 20
Rubus leucostachys
22Lower surface of leaflets densely hairy throughout; stipules present; carpels non glandular, fruit with 16–30 hairy carpelsRubus moorei
Lower surface of leaflets glabrous except for domatia and hairs on veins; stipules absent; carpels glandular, fruit with 35–65 glabrous carpels
                       Back to 7
Rubus nebulosus
23Stipules deeply divided almost to base24
Stipules undivided
                       Back to 1
Rubus moluccanus
24Stipules 2-lobed (rarely 3–4-lobed); fruit never formedRubus x novus
Stipules much divided; plant forming fruit
                       Back to 23
25Leaves with rounded lobes, upper surface with simple hairs; fruit ripening blackRubus rugosus
Leaves with angular lobes, upper surface with tubercle-based hairs; fruit ripening red
                       Back to 24
Rubus alceifolius

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