Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Rubus niveus
(Mysore raspberry)

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Datasheet

Rubus niveus (Mysore raspberry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rubus niveus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mysore raspberry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. niveus is a highly invasive perennial shrub native to India, China and Southeast Asia. It was introduced around the world through the horticultural trade for its production of sweet tasting fruit and as an o...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' fruit and leaves. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Title'Form A' , fruit and leaves
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' fruit and leaves. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' fruit and leaves. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
'Form A' , fruit and leavesRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' fruit and leaves. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry; 'Form B' - habit. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
Title'Form B' habit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry; 'Form B' - habit. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry; 'Form B' - habit. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
'Form B' habitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry; 'Form B' - habit. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' with 'Form B'. Kula, Maui. November 17, 2000
Title'Habit, Form A' with 'Form B'
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' with 'Form B'. Kula, Maui. November 17, 2000
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' with 'Form B'. Kula, Maui. November 17, 2000
'Habit, Form A' with 'Form B'Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' with 'Form B'. Kula, Maui. November 17, 2000©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' coming up in post fire planting area. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Title'Form B', habit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' coming up in post fire planting area. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' coming up in post fire planting area. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
'Form B', habitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' coming up in post fire planting area. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' thorny stem. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
Title'Form B', thorny stem
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' thorny stem. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' thorny stem. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005
'Form B', thorny stemRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' thorny stem. Keahuaiwi Gulch, Maui. August 17, 2005©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' sprouting after fire. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Title'Form B', habit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' sprouting after fire. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' sprouting after fire. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
'Form B', habitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' sprouting after fire. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' leaves flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Title'Form A', leaves, flowers and immature fruit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' leaves flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' leaves flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
'Form A', leaves, flowers and immature fruitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' leaves flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A', close-up of leaves, flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Title'Form A', leaves, flowers and immature fruit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A', close-up of leaves, flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A', close-up of leaves, flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007
'Form A', leaves, flowers and immature fruitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A', close-up of leaves, flowers and immature fruit. Upper Kimo Drive, Kula, Maui. June 21, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); ripening fruit and leaves. Kula, Maui. May 02, 2011
TitleRipening fruit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); ripening fruit and leaves. Kula, Maui. May 02, 2011
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); ripening fruit and leaves. Kula, Maui. May 02, 2011
Ripening fruitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); ripening fruit and leaves. Kula, Maui. May 02, 2011©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' fruit, stems, thorns and leaves. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Title'Form B', fruits and leaves
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' fruit, stems, thorns and leaves. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' fruit, stems, thorns and leaves. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007
'Form B', fruits and leavesRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form B' fruit, stems, thorns and leaves. Polipoli, Maui. September 08, 2007©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' seedling. Kula, Maui. November 14, 2003.
Title'Form A', seedling
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' seedling. Kula, Maui. November 14, 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' seedling. Kula, Maui. November 14, 2003.
'Form A', seedlingRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); 'Form A' seedling. Kula, Maui. November 14, 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); sprayed habit. Polipoli, Maui. May 21, 2009
TitleSprayed habit
CaptionRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); sprayed habit. Polipoli, Maui. May 21, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Rubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); sprayed habit. Polipoli, Maui. May 21, 2009
Sprayed habitRubus niveus (mysore raspberry, hill raspberry); sprayed habit. Polipoli, Maui. May 21, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rubus niveus Thunb.

Preferred Common Name

  • Mysore raspberry

Other Scientific Names

  • Rubus albescens Roxb.
  • Rubus foliolsus D. Don
  • Rubus horsfieldii Miq.
  • Rubus lasiocarpus Sm.
  • Rubus micranthus D. Don
  • Rubus pedunculosus D. Don

International Common Names

  • English: Ceylon raspberry; hill raspberry; Java bramble; snowpeaks raspberry
  • Spanish: frambuesa; mora
  • Chinese: hong pao ci teng

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: rama de novia
  • Germany: Mysorehimbeere
  • India: kala hinsalu

EPPO code

  • RUBNI (Rubus niveus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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R. niveus is a highly invasive perennial shrub native to India, China and Southeast Asia. It was introduced around the world through the horticultural trade for its production of sweet tasting fruit and as an ornamental due to the striking red-purple colour of its stems. Nevertheless, cultivated crops were abandoned due to the formation of dense, spiny thickets and many R. niveus plants escaped from cultivation aided by the distribution of seed by birds. Outside of cultivation, R. niveus can outcompete native vegetation, decrease biodiversity and threaten rare endemic species. The success of many Rubus species is linked to the rapid growth of the roots and their ability to reproduce vegetatively. R. niveus has been described as the most invasive weed species on the Galápagos archipelago and declared a noxious weed in the state of Hawaii, USA (Starr et al., 2003).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Rosales
  •                         Family: Rosaceae
  •                             Genus: Rubus
  •                                 Species: Rubus niveus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Rubus has been described as being one of the most complicated taxonomic groups to identify due to hybridisation, polyploidy and apomixis (Morden et al., 2003). In addition to this, phenotypic plasticity makes species hard to distinguish, resulting in the creation of many biotypes and over 20 synonyms. For this reason, there are large discrepancies in the number of reported of species, which varies greatly from 250 to several thousand (Howarth et al., 1997). The genus Rubus includes economically and ecologically important species, including fruit crops, ornamentals and invasive weeds present in all continents of the world, except Antarctica (Alice and Campbell, 1999). The genus was divided by Focke in the early 1910s into 12 subgenera. The largest of these genera include blackberries, subgenus Eubatus/Rubus, and the raspberries, subgenus Idaeobatus, to which R. niveus belongs.

Description

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R. niveus is a perennial shrub. The following description is taken from Wagner et al. (1999):
 
“Shrubs: stems up to 2 cm long, tomentulose when young or glabrous and glaucous, covered with stout, hooked prickles 3-7 mm long, their bases usually longitudinally elongated, bark of older stems not shredding. Leaves pinnately compound, leaflets 5-9, elliptic-ovate to elliptic, 2.5-6 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, the terminal one often broadly ovate, +- lobed on 1 side and up to 5 cm wide, upper surface glabrous, lower surface densely white tomentose, margins serrate, petiolules 0-0.1 cm long, petioles and rachis usually with curved prickles. Flowers in short, terminal, cymose panicles, densely tomentose and with scattered prickles, pedicels 6-12 mm long; petals rose purple, broadly obviate to suborbicular, ca. 4-5 mm long. Fruit dark red becoming black, subglobose, ca. 1 cm long, white tomentulose.”
 
Two forms of R. niveus have been recorded on the islands of Hawaii, USA, described as form A and form B. According to Gerrish et al. (1992) “both have heavy prickles, robust canes and a white tomentum on the underside of the leaves.”
 
Form A – “deep pink or rose petals, five or seven leaflets, a terminal ovate leaflet, glaucose young stems that appear white, and purple/black fruit 1 to 1.5 cm long,” and thought to be the form described by Wagner et al. (1999).
 
Form B – “light pink petals, nine to eleven leaflets, a terminal elliptic leaflet and dark red to purple stems. Fruit characteristics unknown.”
 
Based on morphological characteristics, R. niveus from the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), Sri Lanka, and form A of R. niveus from Hawaii (USA), appear to be similar to populations from India. R. niveus individuals from Hawaii (form B) are morphologically similar to individuals from Bhutan (St. Quinton et al., 2011).

Plant Type

Top of page Biennial
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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R. niveus is native to many parts of Asia, such as Afghanistan, India, China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines. It has been introduced around the world and is now present in eastern and southern Africa (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa), eastern Australia (Queensland and New South Wales), Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama), the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico) and South America (Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
BhutanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ChinaPresentNativeHEAR, 2012
-GansuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-GuangxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-GuizhouPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-ShaanxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-TibetPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-YunnanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-Jammu and KashmirPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014Kashmir
-SikkimPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
IndonesiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-JavaPresentStirton, 1981
-Nusa TenggaraPresentStirton, 1981Bali, Timor
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MyanmarPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
PakistanPresentUSDA-ARS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Sri LankaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TaiwanPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014

Africa

KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2014; Witt and Luke, 2017
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Kew Herbarium Catalogue, 2014; Witt and Luke, 2017
MozambiquePresentKew Herbarium Catalogue, 2014
South AfricaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b
SwazilandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014b; ISSG, 2014; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroducedKew Herbarium Catalogue, 2014
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedKew Herbarium Catalogue, 2014

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroduced1948Morton, 1987South and central
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1965 Invasive HEAR, 2012Maui (widespread, common in Kula and scattered in Kaiku, Makawao and Piiholo), Kauai, Hawaii (declared a noxious weed)

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014bBarahona, La Vega
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014
GuatemalaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b
HaitiPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b
HondurasPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b; ISSG, 2014Matagalpa
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2014
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ParanaPresentIntroducedI3N-Brasil, 2014
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014b; ISSG, 2014Azuay, Bolívar, Carchi, Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Loja, Napo, Pinchincha, Sucumbíos, Zamora-Chinchipe
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014b; ISSG, 2014Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, Floreana, Santiago

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced2008Karangi to Coffs Harbour
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentKew Herbarium Catalogue, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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The spread of R. niveus from its native range is tightly linked to the movement of seeds via the nursery trade for cultivation of the fruits and its use as an ornamental. Literature indicates that seeds were deliberately introduced from India in the 1930s to Kenya, where R. niveus has been grown in the mountains for years. From here seeds were sent to F.B. Harrington of Natal, South Africa in 1947 before being sent to the University of Florida’s Agricultural Research and Education Centre, Homestead, USA in 1948 (Morton, 1987).
 
Seeds were extensively planted throughout south and central Florida with many nurseries having difficulties meeting demand. There is little information available of the commercial value of the fruits; however it is known that the berries were sold at supermarkets in Florida. Within a few years, many R. niveus plantations were abandoned due to the formation of dense thorny thickets, which made harvesting fruits difficult, and due to the competition with birds for fruits (Morton, 1987).
 
Seeds from Florida were sent to the University of Puerto Rico in 1955 (Morton, 1987). They also travelled from Florida to Honduras, before arriving in the Galápagos archipelago via mainland Ecuador (R Atkinson, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos, personal communication, 2015). In the the Galápagos archipelago, where R. niveus has been described as one of the worst invasive weeds (ISSC, 2014), there have been multiple introductions to Santa Cruz (in 1968 and 1978) and San Cristobal (arrived from Santa Cruz between 1975-1978). It has since spread to Santiago, Isabela and Floreana (Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos National Park, 2009). It is likely that R. niveus was also introduced into Hawaii (USA) and Costa Rica from Florida (USA).
 
R. niveus has been described as an emerging threat to Central America, USA, Australia and South Africa (Rentería et al., 2012b).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Ecuador Florida 1950-1960s Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction
Florida South Africa 1948 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction
Galapagos Islands Ecuador 1968 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction
Kenya India 1930s Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction
Puerto Rico Florida 1955 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction
South Africa Kenya 1947 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Morton (1987) Deliberate introduction

Risk of Introduction

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Typically, the long distance spread of R. niveus occurs intentionally via the horticultural trade (Starr et al., 2003). However, the import of both plants and seeds of R. niveus is prohibited into Hawaii due its status as a noxious weed. A weed risk assessment for Hawaii rated R. niveus as having a high risk score of 19 (PIER, 2014). 
 
Despite its known invasiveness, seeds and plants are available for purchase from a number of sources on the internet.

Habitat

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R. niveus can invade nearly all types of land, including agricultural, forest, grass, shrub and riparian land (ISSG, 2014). R. niveus is often found growing in disturbed sites, such as along roadsides and in cleared fields.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Other
Soil Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Soil Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

R. niveus has been recorded as diploid (2x=14 chromsomes) (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014a) like other species within the Ideobatus subgenus (Spies and Du Plessis, 1985). However, a study in South Africa found a large level of polyploidy within Ideobatus. This suggests that hybridisation with native Rubus species from the subgenus Eubatus (a subgenus that tends to be polyploid) is possible (Spies and Du Plessis, 1985). Nevertheless, molecular studies revealed that plants of R. niveus, in both its introduced range (Galápagos, mainland Ecuador and Hawaii) and native range (India) have a low level of genetic variation. This suggests that hybridisation has not yet occurred (st. Quinton et al. 2011).

Reproductive Biology 

R. niveus can reproduce both sexually and asexually (apomixis), by the production of small seeds on its berries (Rentería et al., 2012b). Vegetative propagation by suckers and stem tips and root sprouting also occurs.

Flowers are hermaphrodite and pollinated by insects. Fruit can be produced from seedlings after 6 months. On average, a bush covering 2.5 m2 in the Himalayas is estimated to produce 657 g of fruit a year, with each fruit containing around 180 seeds (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982). This means that thousands of seeds are deposited into the soil seed bank, where they remain viable for up to 10 years (Atkinson et al., 2008). Extensive seed banks with up to 7000 seeds m-2 have been recorded (Rentería et al., 2012b).  

Germination of R. niveus seeds can be irregular and slow due to an impermeable seed coat, potential chemical inhibitors and slow maturation of the embryo. In the wild, a period of cold stratification is often required with a germination rate of 81% (ISSG, 2014). A study by Wada and Reed (2011) investigated the effects of a number of stratification processes involving sulphuric acid, followed by further treatment with DI water, gibberellic acid and potassium nitrate, or a smoke gas solution. They found that all treatments increased the rate of germination when compared to the non-treated controls.

Physiology and Phenology

According to UK-based Plants for a Future (2014), R. niveus flowers from June to July and fruits ripen between August and September. In the Galápagos, R. niveus fruit and flower all year round (R Atkinson, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos, personal communication, 2015)

In its native range, plants grow to about 2 m in height, whereas in its introduced range they reach 4.5 m (Plants for a Future, 2014). Roots and shoots grow rapidly (Rentería et al., 2012a).

Longevity

R. niveus is perennial, however in areas with harsh winters it may behave as an annual, dying back and resprouting from the rootstock each spring (Rentería, 2011).

It produces a large number of seeds which can remain viable for up to 10 years (Atkinson et al., 2008).

Environmental Requirements

According to the Galapagos Species Checklist, R. niveus is adapted to a wide range of temperatures, light regimes, rainfall and wind (Charles Darwin Foundation, 2014).

It can be found at altitude from 450-3000 m in its native range (ISSG, 2014). In Hawaii, where it has been introduced, form A of R. niveus has been recorded between a lower altitude range of 150-1200 m, with annual rainfall between 1000-3000 mm. In contrast to this, form B has been recorded at much higher elevations than form A, from 900-2000 m, with annual rainfall of 750-1000 mm (Gerrish et al., 1992). In the Galápagos however, R. niveus is restricted to the humid and very humid zones (Rentería, 2011).

R. niveus can grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well drained soil (Plants for a Future, 2014). Experiments by Rentería (2011) found that R. niveus is highly susceptible to drought.

Seeds germinate in sunny conditions but plants can tolerate shade. For example R. niveus can grow in an area of up to 98% canopy cover. Light however, is necessary for reproduction. R. niveus is not resistant to drought or frost but may tolerate light freezes (ISSG, 2014).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Elsinoë veneta Pathogen Leaves/Stems
Hamaspora Pathogen
Mycosphaerella rubi Pathogen
Nezara viridula Herbivore
Phragmidium Pathogen
Polyphagotarsonemus latus Herbivore
Pseudocercospora Pathogen Leaves
Selenothrips rubrocinctus Herbivore
Tetranychus urticae Herbivore

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In its native range, R. niveus is associated with a complex of natural enemies, which are not found in its introduced range. According to Faar and Rossman (2014), there are 57 records of associations between fungal pathogens and R. niveus and its synonyms around the world. These include a number of highly damaging rust fungi within the genus Phragmidium and Hamaspora, as well as the ascomycete Septoria rubi [Mycosphaerella rubi] (Faar and Rossman, 2014). Anthracnose fungus (Elsinoë veneta), has also been recorded on R. niveus, infecting both the canes and leaves (Morton, 1987).

Numerous insects have been observed feeding on R. niveus. These include the two-spotted mite (Tetranychus urticae), the broad mite, (Polyphagotarsonemus latus), the green stink bug (Nezara viridula) and red-banded thrip (Selenothrips rubrocinctus). (Usambara Invasive Plants, 2006).

Natural enemy surveys in China also revealed a leafspot pathogen, Pseudocercospora sp., causing extensive damage, and a stem galling insect on R. niveus. These natural enemies could have good potential as biocontrol agents (Ellison and Barreto, 2004). During surveys for natural enemies of R. ellipticus in China, a shiny and bronze-coloured weevil, thought to be an Involvulus (now separated into three separate genera – Apoderus, Attelabus and Rhynchites) sp., was observed feeding on the buds of R. niveus (Ding et al., 2007).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Intentional Introduction

The long distance movement of R. niveus typically occurs via the horticultural trade. Seeds have been intentionally introduced into new areas for fruit production.

It has also been introduced as an ornamental due to the striking red-purple colour of its stems (R Atkinson, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos, personal communication, 2015).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seeds are dispersed by birds, animals and reptiles. 

A study by Buddenhagen and Jewell (2006) in the Galápagos found that seeds of R. niveus remain viable after passing through the gut of a number of species of bird; including the introduced smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani), endemic Galápagos flycatcher (Myiarchus magnirostris) and endemic Galápagos mockingbird (Nesomimus parpulus).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesGarden waste Yes ISSG, 2014
Host and vector organismsIngested by birds, reptiles and other animals Yes Buddenhagen and Jewell, 2006
Plants or parts of plantsVia horticultural trade Yes ISSG, 2014

Economic Impact

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Control programmes on Santa Cruz Island cost the Galápagos National Park Service US$400 ha-1 year-1. These costly methods mean that only a small area can be managed, enabling further invasion of R. niveus (Rentería et al., 2012b).

Before R. niveus got out of control, it was estimated that by combining a number of methods, eradiation of R. niveus on Santiago Island, Galápagos, could be achieved over 15 years, at a cost of US$150,000 per year (Atkinson et al., 2008).

Environmental Impact

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R. niveus can invade nearly all types of land (ISSG, 2014). During initial stages of invasion, R. niveus will grow over and smother species or occupy gaps within the native vegetation. Once established, R. niveus can grow to form dense impenetrable, thorny thickets up to 4.5 m in height. These can outcompete native vegetation, threaten rare endemic plants and can severely restrict regeneration of native species (Rentería et al., 2012a). Other than in the Galápagos, little additional information is available on country specific impacts of R. niveus.

Since its introduction into the Galápagos, unlike most non-native species, R. niveus showed no time lag before becoming invasive; dense thickets were formed on Santa Cruz just two years after introduction (Tye, 2001). In addition to this, the impact of R. niveus on the island of Santiago was exacerbated due to the successful removal of goats. In 2008, it was estimated that R. niveus covers an area of approximately 30,000 ha in the Galápagos, with the potential to spread dramatically to 90,000 ha (Atkinson et al., 2008).

The genus Scalesia is endemic to the Galápagos and is under constant threat as a result of agricultural activities and invasive non-native species. Studies at the Scalesia forest of Los Gemelos, Santa Cruz, found that by forming dense thickets, R. niveus reduces the available light reaching ground level and therefore prevents the growth of shade intolerant species such as Scalesia pedunculata (Rentería and Buddenhagen, 2006). Increasing cover of R. niveus decreased both species richness and abundance of native vegetation, creating a more simplified vegetation structure (Rentería, 2011). Natural forests with high and low layers, were altered to a medium to low layered vegetation dominated by R. niveus (Rentería, 2011). Glasshouse experiments also revealed that seedlings of R. niveus showed faster growth rates and biomass production, with a larger number of seeds germinating than four native woody species (Rentería, 2011).

R. niveus is a transformer species due to its ability to alter the nature of an ecosystem over a large scale (Gardener et al., 2013). These alterations may result in a loss in ecosystem functioning and services.

A total of 79 species of Rubus have been reported as being a problem in at least one country in the world (Rentería et al., 2011). The problematic nature of Rubus species is a result of the rapid growth of the roots and shoots, in addition to the multiple modes of reproduction, for example the production of a large number of seeds both sexually and asexually (Rentería et al., 2012a).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Scalesia pedunculataEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)Galapagos IslandsCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shading; Competition - smothering; Rapid growthRentería et al., 2012a; Tye and Loving, 1999

Social Impact

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When R. niveus is present on agricultural lands, the formation of dense thickets makes this land useless. R. niveus is unpalatable to cattle and often limits the movement of large animals. This creates an economic problem for the farmer, as removal of R. niveus can be both difficult and expensive (Rentería, 2011). The dense thickets may prevent humans access to the land e.g. for management purposes, recreation or tourism.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Social Benefit

The main use of R. niveus is fruit production. Fruits can be eaten either raw or cooked and are described as having a mildly sweet and smooth flavour. The berries are often used in a variety of desserts and jams. Fruit contains 7.8% sugars, 1.35% protein and trace amounts of minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron (0.04, 0.237, 0.058, 0.068 and 0,007 % respectively) (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982). R. niveus is also grown as an ornamental (R Atkinson, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos, personal communication, 2015).

Fruits may be used to produce a purple-dull blue dye (Plants for Future, 2004).

Traditionally, in its native range, R. niveus is used for its medicinal properties. Extracts and juices from the fruits have been used as an antidote for snake bites (Bhat et al., 2013) and are also used in ethonoveterinary medicine as a tonic during pregnancy (Pande et al., 2007). In India, the root tips are made into small pills which help cure excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle (George et al., 2013) and may also be used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea (Uniyal et al., 2006). A recent study by George et al. (2013) revealed that root acetone extracts have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activities. More recently, George et al. (2014) reported that these extracts also act as an antioxidant and have the potential to help treat skin diseases, wounds and tumours.

Economic Value

There is little information available on the economic value of R. niveus berries; however, due to its perishable nature, it is unlikely to be a profitable crop.

As part of the 12 trees project in Hawaii, R. niveus berries were sold either frozen or fresh for US$7 per pound (Love, 2014). However, taking into account harvesting and growing costs, it was estimated that the gross margin produced by the project Mysore raspberry plant was US$-47.78 per shrub (Love, 2014).

Environmental Services

Before the invasive nature of R. niveus was realised, plants were originally used to create living fences on the Galápagos Islands (ISSG, 2014). Fruits are eaten by animals, including rodents and birds.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A total of 79 species of Rubus have been reported as being a problem in at least one country in the world and due to phenotypic plasticity within the genus, correct identification of R. niveus can be difficult (Rentería et al., 2011). Several species which are often confused with R. niveus include R.cockburnianus, R. lasiostylus and R. coreanus.
 

Prevention and Control

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Control

Rentería et al., (2012a) suggested that a target of a maximum of 40% cover of R. niveus should be aimed for in the Galápagos. This would enable natural regeneration of endemic species and make further control using other methods more feasible.

Cultural control

In the Galápagos, after removal of R. niveus, grasses such as Brachiaria,Urochloa decumbens, and Panicum maximum cultivar Tanzania, are planted to provide competition and prevent re-invasion by R. niveus (ISSG, 2014). The native tree Scalesia pedunculata has also been planted, however the effectiveness of this technique has not been reported (ISSG, 2014).

Physical/mechanical control

It is possible to remove small seedlings of R. niveus by hand. However, large plants are difficult to remove as they form dense, spiny thickets and removal of the entire plant is necessary to prevent regrowth. Large plants may however be cut back before chemicals are applied (Starr et al., 2003).

Biological control

Biological control could provide a long-term management strategy for R. niveus, which over time would reduce the density and overall vigour of R. niveus plants, making control by alternative methods more attainable.

Biological control programmes already exist for a number of Rubus spp., including the use of Phragmidium violaceum for control of R. fruticosus in Australia (Morin and Evans, 2012). It has been suggested that R. niveus is an ideal target for biological control, in particular within the Galápagos archipelago. This is because no native Rubus or Rosaceae exist on the islands (Rentería, 2011).  In addition to this, R. niveus is part of the tribe of species from the Old World, and more distantly related to those on mainland Ecuador which are from the New World (Rentería, 2011). Molecular studies carried out by St. Quinton et al. (2011) found that plants of R. niveus from the Galápagos (Ecuador), mainland Ecuador, Hawaii (USA) and India, all show a low level of genetic variation. This indicates that hybridisation with other Rubus species is unlikely to have occurred, making the search for a biocontrol agent more feasible.

Chemical control

Current management programmes for R. niveus focus on the use of herbicides for removal of large adult plants, ideally before maturation, to prevent the production of seeds which contribute to the soil seed bank. A study by Gardener et al. (1999) found that some level of control can be gained by using glyphosate and triclopyr, which led to the complete death of stems and roots. The Charles Darwin Foundation have suggested the use of a herbicide containing Picloram and 2,4-D (ISSG, 2008). However, herbicides often cause non-target damage to native species, and the exposure of bare ground may lead to the regrowth of R. niveus seedlings.

A five year control programme on the island of Santiago, Galápagos, Ecuador, began in 2006. Known infestation sites were treated with foliar herbicides every three to four months and small seedlings were removed by hand (Rentería et al., 2012b). Areas in which these methods were applied have seen a reduction in plant density and a decrease in the soil seed bank (Rentería et al., 2012b). Nevertheless, the distribution of R. niveus on the island was seen to increase at a constant rate of 175 ha yr-1. The increase in cover however, was a result of the search methodology not locating all the plants, allowing them to reach maturity and produce seeds (Rentería et al., 2012b). Atkinson et al. (2008), estimated that for total eradication of R. niveus on Santiago, over 10 years, would cost US$10 million and would require more thorough search techniques. However, it cannot be completely ruled out that seeds of R. niveus from neighbouring islands would not be carried back by birds and re-establish.

Atkinson et al. (2008) suggested that in order to completely eradicate R. niveus “seed bank control methods that prevent germination or growth need to be implemented”. Pre-emergent herbicides, such as oxadiason and butachlor, have been trialled in the Galápagos with success in reducing the soil seed bank (ISSG, 2008).

Control of Rubus species using herbicides is possible; Rubus adenotrichos has been eradicated from the highlands of Santa Cruz using glyphosate. The success of this project however, is due to its limited distribution (5 ha) and lack of seed bank. Removal has since enabled regeneration of Scalesia pedunculata on bare ground (Soria et al., 2002).

Ecosystem Restoration

Ecosystem restoration, and the reintroduction of endemic species after removal of an invasive species, is crucial to prevent reinvasion by both R. niveus and other non-native species. For example, the removal of Cinchona pubescens from an area in the Galápagos created a point of entry for invasion by R. niveus (Jäger and Kowarik, 2010). 

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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Kate Pollard, Project Scientist, CABI, UK

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