Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
it has become widely naturalized in the Northeast from Delaware to
Virginia, and in the Pacific Northwest . The Himalayan blackberry
occurs from northern California through southern British Columbia
eastward to Idaho. It is particularly widespread west of the Cascades
 and is now abundant along the Snake River in southeastern
Washington . It is also locally established in parts of Utah and
perhaps Arizona [19,31].
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
shrub which grows up to 9.8 feet (3 m) in height [25,31]. Leaves are
pinnately to palmately compound, with three to five broad leaflets
[25,31]. Mature leaves are green and glaucous above but tomentose
Stems of most blackberries are biennial. Sterile first-year stems, or
primocanes, develop from buds at or below the ground surface and bear
only leaves . During the second year, lateral branches, known as
floricanes, develop in the axils of the primocanes, and produce both
leaves and flowers .
Perfect flowers are borne in clusters of 3 to 20 [24,31]. Flowers are
most commonly white, but rose or reddish flowers also occur [24,31].
Ripe fruit, commonly referred to as "berries," are soft, shiny black and
composed of an aggregate of large succulent drupelets [3,25].
The Himalayan blackberry typically grows in open weedy sites, such as
along field margins, railroad right-of-ways, roadsides, and on abandoned
farms [6,14,31]. It is also common in riparian woodlands and intertidal
zones of central California [18,22,28,32].
Soils: Blackberries grow well on a variety of barren, infertile soil
types . These shrubs tolerate a wide range of soil pH and texture,
but do require adequate soil moisture . The Himalayan blackberry
appears to be tolerant of periodic flooding by brackish or fresh water
Elevation: Elevational ranges of the Himalayan blackberry have been
documented as follows for two western states [19,31]:
> 6,000 feet (1,829 m) in AZ
from 2,788 to 5,000 feet (850-1,525 m) in UT
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
21 Eastern white pine
60 Beech - sugar maple
64 Sassafras - persimmon
78 Virginia pine - oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
222 Black cottonwood - willow
224 Western hemlock
226 Coastal true fir - hemlock
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce
FRES28 Western hardwoods
Key Plant Community Associations
Himalayan blackberry on disturbed sites in the Northeast and Pacific
Northwest. The following species commonly grow with Himalayan blackberry
in riparian zones of California: trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus),
evergreen blackberry (R. laciniatus), Fremont cottonwood (Populus
fremontii), black cottonwood (P. trichocarpa), oaks (Quercus spp.),
arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis), and other willows (Salix spp.)
Fungus / parasite
Podosphaera aphanis parasitises live Rubus discolor
Plant Response to Fire
Vegetative response: The Himalayan blackberry is capable of rapid,
extensive spread through trailing aboveground stems which root at the
nodes . Plants are presumably able to regenerate vegetatively and
resume growth when portions of the aboveground stems remain undamaged.
Most blackberries readily regenerate vegetatively from underground
structures such as roots, rhizomes, or rootstocks when aboveground
foliage is removed . Regeneration through various underground
structures, which are well protected from the direct effects of fire by
overlying soil, is probable even when the aboveground vegetation is
totally consumed by fire.
Seedling establishment: Exposed mineral soil can provide a favorable
seedbed, and extensive postfire establishment of on-site seed is
commonly observed in many blackberries. Birds and mammals may also
transport some viable seed to the site.
Rate of postfire recovery: The weedy Himalayan blackberry is described
as a "serious pest" which is well represented on many types of disturbed
sites [7,14]. Its role as a vigorous invader on waste ground suggests
the potential for rapid postfire recovery in many areas.
Immediate Effect of Fire
Although Himalayan blackberry plants may be top-killed, actual mortality
appears to be uncommon because of the prolific sprouting ability of this
Most Himalayan blackberry seed stored on-site in the soil or duff is
probably unharmed by fire.
Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Blackberries are typically observed in greatest abundance following fire
or other types of disturbance. The Himalayan blackberry is well adapted
to invade recently burned sites. Most blackberries sprout vigorously
after fire . Various regenerative structures located at or below the
ground surface enable this shrub to sprout, even when aboveground
foliage is totally consumed by fire. Sprouting through rooting stem
nodes  is also likely if even portions of the aboveground stem
Most blackberries store seed in seedbanks. Plants can readily reoccupy
recently burned sites through seed protected from the direct effects of
fire by overlying soil or duff. Seed generally remains viable for long
periods of time  and germinates in abundance after disturbance. The
relatively large, sweet, succulent fruits of blackberries amply reward
animal dispersers , and some postfire reestablishment through seed
transported from off-site is also probable.
Blackberries are generally most prevalent in early seral communities.
In the Northeast, blackberries are aggressive invaders in old field
communities . In the West, the introduced Himalayan blackberry
commonly occurs as an early seral species in relatively open disturbed
areas, such as along roadways or on abandoned homesteads . This
blackberry also grows in certain riparian areas of California where it
can apparently establish and persist despite periodic inundation by
fresh or brackish water . This periodic flooding can produce
relatively long-lived early seral communities conducive to the growth
and spread of blackberries. The Himalayan blackberry is one of the few
woody plants pioneering certain intertidal zones of the lower Sacramento
River . Little is known about the successional status of the
Himalayan blackberry in its native Europe.
The Himalayan blackberry is capable of extensive and vigorous vegetative
regeneration . Sexual reproduction may also be important.
Reproductive versatility is well represented in the Rubus genus, with
sexual reproduction, parthenogenesis (development of the egg without
fertilization), pseudogamy (a form of apomixis in which pollination is
required), and parthenocarpy (production of fruit without
fertilization), occurring widely . The following types of
reproduction have been documented in blackberries: (1) sexual
reproduction, (2) nonreduction at meiosis on the female, male, or both
sides, (3) apomixis (seeds contain embryos of maternal, rather than
sexual origin) with segregation, (4) apomixis without segregation, and
(5) haploid parthenogenesis . These modes of asexual reproduction
contribute significantly to the aggressive, vigorous spread of
Vegetative regeneration: The mostly biennial stems of blackberries
typically develop from perennial rootstocks or creeping stems .
Most species within the Rubus genus are capable of sprouting vigorously
from root or stem suckers, or rooting stem tips . Although not
specifically documented for the Himalayan blackberry, a similar response
is probable given the plant's morphology and the speed at which
postdisturbance establishment and spread occurs. The Himalayan
blackberry is known to spread extensively by trailing stems which root
at the nodes . Rapid vegetative spread occurs even in the absence
Seed production: Most blackberries produce good seed crops nearly every
year . Immature fruit of the Himalayan blackberry is red and hard,
but at maturity, fruit becomes shiny black, soft, and succulent .
Individual drupelets form an aggregate up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length
[3,24]. Cleaned seed averages approximately 147,000 per pound
Germination: Blackberry seeds have a hard impermeable coat and a
dormant embryo . Consequently, germination is often slow. Most
blackberries require, as a minimum, warm stratification at 68 to 86
degrees F (20 to 30 degrees C) for 90 days, followed by cold
stratification at 36 to 41 degrees F (2 to 5 degrees C) for an
additional 90 days . These conditions are frequently encountered
naturally as seeds mature in summer and remain in the soil throughout
the cold winter months. Laboratory tests indicate that exposure to
sulfuric acid solutions or sodium hyperchlorite prior to cold
stratification can enhance germination .
Seedbanking: Seeds of most blackberries can remain viable when stored
in the soil for a period of at least several years . However, the
specific length of viability has not been documented for the Himalayan
Seed dispersal: Seeds of blackberries are readily dispersed by gravity
and by many species of birds and mammals. The large succulent fruits
are highly sought-after and, after they mature, rarely remain on the
plant for long . A hard seedcoat protects the embryo even when the
seeds are ingested. Evidence suggests that the action of avian gizzards
and exposure to mammalian digestive acids provide scarification which
may actually enhance germination .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Rubus discolor
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rubus discolor
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rubus armeniacus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
aggressively in many parts of the United States. It is now regarded as
a serious pest in parts of the Pacific Northwest, particularly west of
the Cascades .
Chemical control: Good to excellent control of the Himalayan blackberry
can be obtained through the use of glyphosate, picloram + 2,4-D,
triclopyr ester, or triclopyr amine .
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Wildlife: The Himalayan blackberry provides food and cover for many
wildlife species. Fruits of blackberries are eaten by numerous birds,
including the northern bobwhite, scaled quail, ruffed grouse,
sharp-tailed grouse, California quail, ring-necked pheasant, blue
grouse, gray (Hungarian) partridge, band-tailed pigeon, gray catbird,
northern cardinal, American robin, yellow-breasted chat, pine grosbeak,
summer tanager, orchard oriole, brown thrasher, thrushes, and towhees
[1,30,33]. Mammals such, as the coyote, common opossum, red squirrel,
raccoon, gray fox, red fox, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, and black
bear, also feed on blackberries [30,33].
Deer, rabbits, and mountain beaver consume the buds, stems, and leaves
of blackberries [30,33]. The Himalayan blackberry is considered a
primary elk browse in parts of California, where it is used primarily
during the winter months . Porcupines and beaver feed on the
cambium, buds, and stems of many species of blackberries .
Livestock: Blackberries, in general, provide only poor browse for
domestic livestock . However, the specific value of Himalayan
blackberry has not been documented. In some areas, this shrub may
represent a barrier to the movement of livestock. Domestic sheep
occasionally become entangled in the spiny foliage of this sprawling
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
infertile, disturbed sites [3,30]. The Himalayan blackberry has been
successfully planted in riparian areas along Columbia River impoundments
in north-central Washington . Good survival was observed up to 5
years after the initial plantings were made .
Blackberries may be propagated vegetatively, transplanted, or seeded
onto disturbed sites. According to Brinkman , seed which has been
scarified can be successfully planted in the late summer or early fall.
Seed planted in the fall does not require cold treatment. Previously
stratified and scarified seed can be planted in the spring. Good
results have been obtained after seeds were planted with a drill and
covered with 1/8 to 3/16 inch (0.3-0.5 cm) of soil .
Other uses and values
western Washington and Oregon, although its fruit is reportedly less
flavorful than that of the native trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
. It is a preferred berry for fruit pies . The fruit, roots, and
stems of blackberries have been used to make various medicinal
preparations . Many blackberries are grown in gardens or as
ornamentals. Himalayan blackberry was first cultivated in 1890 .
of birds . Mammals, such as rabbits, red squirrel, black bear, and
beaver, use blackberry thickets as hiding or resting sites .
Palatability of Himalayan blackberry browse has not been determined.
Rubus armeniacus, Armenian Blackberry or Himalayan Blackberry, is a species of Rubus in the blackberry group Rubus subgenus Rubus series Discolores (P.J. Müll.) Focke. It is native to Armenia and Northern Iran, and widely naturalised elsewhere. Both its scientific name and origin have been the subject of much confusion, with much of the literature using one or the other of the two synonyms, and often mistakenly citing its origin as western European.
Rubus armeniacus is a perennial plant which bears biennial stems ("canes") from the perennial root system. In its first year a new stem grows vigorously to its full length of 4-10 m, trailing along the ground or arching up to 4 m high. The stem is stout, up to 2–3 cm diameter at the base, and green or reddish-tinged above if it is exposed to bright sunlight. The leaves on first year shoots are 7–20 cm long, palmately compound with five leaflets. Flowers are not produced on first year shoots. In its second year, the stem does not grow longer, but produces several side shoots, which bear smaller leaves with three leaflets (rarely a single leaflet). These leaflets are oval-acute, dark green above and pale to whitish below, with a toothed margin, and thorns along the midrib on the underside. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on panicles of 3–20 together on the tips of the second-year side shoots, each flower 2–2.5 cm diameter with five white or pale pink petals.
The fruit in botanical terminology is not a berry, but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets, 1.2–2 cm diameter, ripening black or dark purple. Both first and second year shoots are spiny, with short, stout, curved, sharp spines. Mature plants form a tangle of dense arching stems, the branches rooting from the node tip when they reach the ground.
The species was introduced to Europe in 1835 and to Australasia and North America in 1885. It was valued for its fruit, similar to that of common blackberries (Rubus fruticosus and allies) but larger and sweeter, making it a more attractive species for both domestic and commercial fruit production. The cultivars "Himalayan Giant" and "Theodore Reimers" are particularly commonly planted.
Rubus armeniacus soon escaped from cultivation and has become an invasive species in most of the temperate world. Because it is so hard to contain, it quickly got out of control, with birds and other animals eating the fruit and then spreading the seeds.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rubus armeniacus.|
- Ceska, A. (1999). Rubus armeniacus - a correct name for Himalayan Blackberries Botanical Electronic News 230. Available online.
- Flora of NW Europe: Rubus armeniacus
- University of British Columbia Botany Photo of the Day: July 21, 2005 : Rubus armeniacus
- Francis, J. K. (2003). Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees. pdf file
- Naturalised Invasive and Potentially Invasive Garden Plant database (Australia) pdf file
- USDA Plant Profile: Rubus armeniacus
- Max Bennett, Extension forester, Jackson County (February 2007). "Managing Himalayan Blackberry in western Oregon riparian areas". Oregon State University. Retrieved 2014-05-26. "It escaped cultivation and has since invaded a variety of sites, including low-elevation streamside areas throughout the Pacific Northwest. Listed as a noxious weed in Oregon, Himalayan blackberry rapidly occupies disturbed areas, is very difficult to eradicate once established, and tends to out-compete native vegetation. For those trying to restore or enhance native streamside vegetation, Himalayan blackberry control is a major problem."
Names and Taxonomy
Rubus procerus auct. non P.J. MÃ¼ll. ex Genev
Rubus discolor Weihe and Nees . Infrataxa have not been described
for this species.
Himalayan blackberry hybridizes with a number of Rubus species .
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