Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Rubus ellipticus
(yellow Himalayan raspberry)

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Datasheet

Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rubus ellipticus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • yellow Himalayan raspberry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The invasiveness of the thorny shrub R. ellipticus has been most thoroughly documented on the island of Hawaii. Since the first report of its escape from cultivation in 1961, this species has become establish...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit in native vegetation. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
TitleHabit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit in native vegetation. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
Copyright© Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit in native vegetation. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
HabitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit in native vegetation. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.© Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. India. June 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. India. June 2014.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. India. June 2014.
HabitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. India. June 2014.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit, showing foliage. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
TitleFoliage
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit, showing foliage. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit, showing foliage. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
FoliageRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit, showing foliage. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
TitleHabit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
HabitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); habit. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.©Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); leaves and thorny stem. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
TitleLeaves and thorny stem
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); leaves and thorny stem. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); leaves and thorny stem. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.
Leaves and thorny stemRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); leaves and thorny stem. Hwy11, Mountain view, Hawaii, Hawaii, USA. December 2001.©Forest & Kim Starr-2001 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2012.
TitleThorny stem
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2012.
Thorny stemRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
TitleThorny stem
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
Thorny stemRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); thorny stem. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); close-up of flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
TitleFlowers
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); close-up of flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); close-up of flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
FlowersRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); close-up of flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
TitleFlowers
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.
FlowersRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); flowers. Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, south India. September 2015.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Nepal.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Nepal.
Copyright©Krish Dulal/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Nepal.
Fruiting habitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Nepal.©Krish Dulal/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
Copyright©Krish Dulal/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
Fruiting habitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); fruiting habit. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.©Krish Dulal/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); single ripe fruit in hand. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
TitleFruit
CaptionRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); single ripe fruit in hand. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); single ripe fruit in hand. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.
FruitRubus ellipticus (yellow Himalayan raspberry); single ripe fruit in hand. Ootacamund, Tamil Nadu, south India. May 2014.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rubus ellipticus Sm.

Preferred Common Name

  • yellow Himalayan raspberry

Other Scientific Names

  • Rubus ellipticus Sm. var. ellipticus Sm.
  • Rubus ellipticus Sm. var. obcordatus (Franch) Focke

International Common Names

  • English: broadleafed bramble; Ceylon blackberry; cheeseberry; evergreen raspberry; golden evergreen raspberry; Himalayan raspberry; Molucca berry; Molucca bramble; Molucca raspberry; wild raspberry
  • Chinese: tuo yuan xuan gou zi

Local Common Names

  • Australia: yellow raspberry
  • India: hinsal; jotelupoka; lalanchu; shunu mukram
  • Mauritius: piquant loulou
  • Nepal: ainselu
  • Philippines: buhadoi; bunut; hoan bao; init gan kumadop; kokobod; mahuluang; nam-khaikung; quantsoe
  • Vietnam: ngây long

EPPO code

  • RUBEL (Rubus ellipticus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The invasiveness of the thorny shrub R. ellipticus has been most thoroughly documented on the island of Hawaii. Since the first report of its escape from cultivation in 1961, this species has become established in mid-elevation forest and pastureland, forming tall, dense thickets. Seeds are sufficiently viable following passage through the digestive systems of birds and mammals to readily germinate in pastureland and undisturbed forest sites where they are deposited. Several introduced frugivorous birds and feral mammals, are capable of dissemination of seeds via ingestion of the succulent fruit and birds in particular, are able to carry seeds to adjacent sites. It can also spread by suckers and resprouts vigorously after fire. The ability to colonize undisturbed native forests and displace native species is cause for alarm among resource managers of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and other natural reserves of Hawaii, comprised of highly ecologically sensitive systems. It has been listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species (Lower et al., 2000), and is a prohibited species in South Africa (NEMBA Category 1a).  

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Rubus is one of the largest genera of the family Rosaceae, consisting of about 1500 species distributed worldwide, but especially across the northern hemisphere in temperate habitats and the Andes of South America (Wagner et al., 1999; Stevens, 2012; The Plant List, 2013). Focke (1910) divided this variable and taxonomically complex genus into 12 sub-genera, each with a number of sections, subsections and series in his comprehensive monograph of the genus Rubus. R. ellipticus, commonly known as yellow Himalayan raspberry, was placed in subgenus Idaeobatus, section Idaeanthi, series Elliptici. Based on morphological features, chromosome numbers and geographical distribution, a new systematic arrangement of Chinese Rubus has been suggested by Lu (1983). According to this classification, R. ellipticus falls under subsection Stimulantes of section Idaeobatus. Two varieties of the species are recognized: R. ellipticus var. ellipticus and R. ellipticus var. obcordatus. Whereas hybridization within Rubus is a widespread phenomenon complicating the taxonomy of the genus, R. ellipticus itself with its two varieties, has not been known to occur in hybrid form, and is morphologically distinct and readily distinguished from other species. The form which has become invasive in Hawaii is R. ellipticus var. obcordatus.

Description

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R. ellipticus is a stout, weakly climbing, evergreen shrub 1–3 m tall. Branchlets purplish brown or brownish, pubescent, with sparse, curved prickles and dense, purplish brown bristles or glandular hairs. Leaves imparipinnate, 3-foliolate; petiole 2–6 cm, petiolule of terminal leaflet 2–3 cm, lateral leaflets subsessile, petiolule and rachis purplish red bristly, pubescent, with minute prickles; stipules linear, 7–11 mm, pubescent, with intermixed glandular hairs; blade of leaflets elliptic or obovate, 4–8(–12) × 3–6(–9) cm, terminal leaflet much larger than lateral leaflets, abaxially densely tomentose, with purplish red bristles along prominent veins, adaxially veins impressed, pubescent along midvein, base rounded, margin unevenly minute sharply serrate, apex acute, abruptly pointed, shallowly cordate, or subtruncate. Inflorescences terminal, dense glomerate racemes, (1.5–)2–4 cm, flowers several to 10 or more, or flowers several in clusters in leaf axils, rarely flowers solitary; rachis and pedicels pubescent, bristly; bracts linear, 5–9 mm, pubescent. Pedicel 4–6 mm. Flowers 1–1.5 cm in diameter. Calyx abaxially pubescent, intermixed yellowish tomentose, sparsely bristly; sepals erect, ovate, 4–5(–6) × 2–3(–4) mm, abaxially densely yellowish gray tomentose, apex acute and abruptly pointed. Petals white or pink, spatulate, longer than sepals, margin premorse, densely pubescent, base clawed. Stamens numerous, shorter than petals; filaments broadened and flattened basally. Ovary pubescent; styles glabrous, slightly longer than stamens. Aggregate fruit golden yellow, subglobose, approximately 1 cm in diameter, glabrous or drupelets pubescent at apex; pyrenes triangular-ovoid, densely rugulose (Wagner et al., 1999; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015).

  • R. ellipticus var. ellipticus: Leaflets elliptic, apex acute or abruptly pointed; pedicel and abaxial surface of calyx bristly.
  • R. ellipticus var. obcordatus: Leaflets obovate, apex shallowly cordate or subtruncate; pedicel and abaxial surface of calyx with few bristles. 

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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R. ellipticus occurs naturally in continental Asia and some adjacent islands, such as Sri Lanka and Luzon in the Philippines (Becking, 1979). The centre of the native range of R. ellipticus extends from the Himalayan foothills of northern India and possibly northern Pakistan to the central and southern regions of China. According to unpublished surveys in China, this species is best known in the centre of distribution of Rubus in China, ranging from northwestern Yunnan to southwestern Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Xizhang. It can be found naturalized in tropical Africa, Australia, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Costa Rica , and the distribution is likely to be wider than indicated in the distribution list.

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 ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BhutanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangxiPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
-GuizhouPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
-SichuanPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
-TibetPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
-YunnanPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
IndiaWidespreadNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
-AssamPresentKalita et al., 2002
-KeralaPresentNativeIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-MaharashtraPresentNativeIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-SikkimPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedBecking, 1979
MyanmarPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
NepalPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
PhilippinesPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
Sri LankaPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
ThailandPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007
VietnamPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2007

Africa

MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Edwards, 1985
MozambiquePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
South AfricaPresentIntroducedLalla and Cheek, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Becking, 1979
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Becking, 1979
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Jacobi & Warshauer, 1992; Wagner et al., 1990; Gerrish et al., 1992; Stratton, 1996; Gardner, 1999

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007
JamaicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007

South America

EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2007

Oceania

AustraliaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2007
-New South WalesRestricted distributionIntroduced Not invasive Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2007
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015

Risk of Introduction

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The succulent, edible fruit of R. ellipticus suggests that the probability of intentional introduction appears much greater than any risk of long-range accidental introduction. Its use as part of breeding programmes as well as directly for commercial production means that there is considerable scope for the further introduction of this species.

Habitat

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R. ellipticus is able to tolerate a variety of habitats. Although typically in sparsely colonized sites in its native South and East Asia, the species is widely distributed through a variety of moisture habitats ranging from dry mountain slopes to the margins of lower and mid-elevation rice fields. R. ellipticus grows in slopes, montane valleys, sparse forests, thickets, roadsides, and forest edges in wet place (Wagner et al., 1999; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). In China, R. ellipticus grows vigorously in wet lowland sites along pond banks, and in heavily forested to drier montane habitats at 1000-2500 m elevation up to 3000 m, indicating frost tolerance. It encroaches into cultivated areas, where it would probably become more densely established were it not for the diligence of local farmers who remove it as a weed. In Hawaii, it is listed as a noxious weed, and it grows forming  dense, impenetrable thickets in cleared pasturelands at about 1300 m elevation with an annual rainfall of 400 mm.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural 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)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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R. ellipticus encroaches upon rice fields in China and elsewhere in Asia if farmers do not manually control this bramble. R. ellipticus invades apple, and other temperate fruit orchards in India (Misra and Sharma, 1970; Misra and Singh, 1972). Its weedy habit is particularly evident in Hawaii where it aggressively colonizes cleared pastureland and encroaches into native forests, forming tall, dense thickets.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Acacia koa (koa)FabaceaeWild host
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeMain
Metrosideros polymorphaMyrtaceaeWild host
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu grass)PoaceaeUnknown
Rubus hawaiiensisRosaceaeWild host
Vaccinium reticulatumEricaceaeWild host

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for R. ellipticus is 2n=14. There are no reports of naturally occurring hybridization. Meng and Finn (2002) reported that R. ellipticus has the highest variation in DNA content amongst the many Rubus species tested.

Physiology and Phenology

In the warmer habitats where it has been observed, the species is evergreen with developmental phases minimally corresponding to seasons of the year. Thus, vegetative growth, flowering and fruiting occur throughout the year. In contrast to Hawaii's several other introduced Rubus species, R. ellipticus is relatively shade tolerant and has the ability to invade and become established in undisturbed forest understorey. In such sites where it has become established, little or no other vegetation has been observed growing under or near R. ellipticus (Stratton, 1996), but whether this is due to the increased shading or whether R. ellipticus has allelopathic qualities has not been conclusively determined. It should be noted, however, that observations of this weed in both its native habitats of China and in its introduced locations in Hawaii, suggest that the Hawaiian introduction appears to be strikingly more aggressive than in its native habitats, noted by the fact that in China it was never observed to form tall, dense thickets that are typical for this species and variety in Hawaii. In terms of reproductive phenology, in China, R. ellipticus has been recorded flowering from March to April and fruiting from April to May (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). In India, it produces flowers and fruits from November to March (India Biodiversity, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

R. ellipticus reproduces readily by seed, which, when carried by fruit-eating birds, are its primary means of long-distance dissemination. Flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. New stems are produced each year from perennial rootstock. The plant spreads rapidly by root suckers and regenerates from underground shoots after fire or cutting. As stated above, the dissemination of seeds via fruit-consuming birds and mammals suggests that seeds are unharmed by passage through digestive systems of these vectors. It is not known whether such passage enhances germination, however.

Environmental Requirements

Site requirements for establishment and growth of R. ellipticus have not been specifically determined, however, the apparent success of this species in a wide variety of ecological habitats suggests that it is not limited by exacting environmental requirements. Although R. ellipticus occurs in warmer regions, its tolerance for freezing temperatures has been noted during the occasional frosts that occur in the localities of its naturalization in Hawaii, and as indicated by its occurrence at high elevations in China and the Himalayan regions. R. ellipticus thrives at elevations ranging from 900 to 1300 metres and in areas with annual precipitation between 1250 and 7000 mm. 

Associations

The ability of this species to fix nitrogen was reported in Pakistan (Becking, 1979, 1984), which would be noteworthy for a non-leguminous plant, though no root nodules were found on R. ellipticus in subsequent observations (Chaudhary et al., 1981).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0 3000

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Most reports of insects and diseases of R. ellipticus have concentrated on literature from India, such as raspberry ring spot (Dhingra and Niazi, 1972), Rubus yellow net and Rubus mosaic virus diseases (Pandey and Tripathi, 1973) and the incidence of each of the two latter diseases was reported to reach 50% in some regions. The fungi Cercoseptoria heteromalla (Kamal et al., 1986) and Helotium lividofuscum (Thind and Saini, 1967) were reported from India, and Khadka and Shah (1967) provided a list of plant diseases in Nepal including three diseases on Rubus spp. caused by fungi of the genera Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Uredo, although R. ellipticus was not mentioned specifically as a host. Few significant fungal foliar diseases have been observed in China, although a rust fungus, identified as Hamaspora rubi-sieboldii (Monoson, 1969), was found on R. ellipticus leaves in Sichuan Province but did not appear to cause significant damage to the host.

Fewer published references to insects associated with R. ellipticus were found. Although there are few reports from China, limited unpublished surveys indicate that this host is attacked by a large complex of natural enemies, including at least one significantly damaging leaf rolling Lepidoptera species as well as leaf feeders and twig borers, and evidence of an unidentified stem borer associated with considerable death of R. ellipticus stems was found in a dry forest in Yunnan. Wu et al. (2013) investigated insect herbivores on R. ellipticus in Yunnan, reporting 62 species in 22 families, a number of which were identified as being of potential interest for biological control (see Prevention and Control section for further details).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Birds and mammals are the principal vectors, dispersing the seed via consumed fruit, notably observed where introduced and invasive (Gerrish et al., 1992; Jacobi and Warshauer, 1992). However, the extent to which this occurs in the native range has not been documented.

Accidental Introduction

Whereas long-range accidental introduction is possible, seeds of R. ellipticus are not readily carried or transported inadvertently; therefore the probability appears low relative to that of other noxious weeds.

Intentional Introduction

The activities of man in dispersing this species in conjunction with its desirable qualities, i.e. medicinal and food uses, are undoubtedly significant. This was exemplified by its introduction to Florida and California, USA (Becking, 1979), to Africa (Edwards, 1985), and to Hawaii for its value as a fruit crop (Jacobi and Warshauer, 1992; Gardner, 1999).

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Negative
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Human health Positive
Livestock production Negative
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism None
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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At present, significant economic impact of invasion by R. ellipticus occurs in upland pasture regions of the island of Hawaii, and in montane forests in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Australia. It is listed as a noxious weed in south-eastern Queensland. Costs of control of this species in its native and introduced range, however, have not been quantified.

Environmental Impact

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R. ellipticus is listed as an invasive plant species in Hawaii, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Australia. This species is a highly aggressive invader that grows forming impenetrable thickets where it has become established, threatening native ecosystems and displacing native vegetation. In Hawaii it forms impenetrable thickets, threatening native lowland wet forests and displacing native plant species, including the native Hawaiian raspberry species Rubus hawaiiensis (Benton, 1997). The invasive aggressiveness of R. ellipticus is demonstrated in Hawaii, including its relative shade tolerance and ability to become established in undisturbed sites, presenting a severe threat to environmental integrity (Stratton, 1996). Although at present, R. ellipticus var. obcordatus is limited in distribution compared with the several other introduced species of Rubus throughout the islands, the threat of its rapid expansion and environmental invasion is considered greater than for other species (Gerrish et al., 1992).

Impact on Biodiversity

R. ellipticus has the ability to invade and become established in undisturbed sites, where it crowds and/or shades out other species and forms monospecific stands, threatening native flora (Jacobi and Warschauer, 1992). Evidence of allelopathy associated with this species has also been observed, but this has not been fully confirmed (Stratton, 1996). The site of the introduction of R. ellipticus var. obcordatus in Hawaii, adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is particularly problematic from the standpoint of threats to native systems with over 90% endemism (Wagner et al., 1990).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Drosophila ochrobasisUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
Phyllostegia velutina (velvet phyllostegia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998
Sicyos albus (white burr cucumber)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996

Social Impact

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The ability of R. ellipticus to rapidly form dense, impenetrable thickets presents problems in access to and recreational use of lands for hunting or hiking. The heavily armed canes are repulsive, making stands of this species very unpleasant for humans to approach.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Fouling
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
  • 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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The fruits of R. ellipticus are rich in malic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid and carbohydrates which are edible and possess great value for exploitation and utilization such as processing into jam, vinegar, and wine, etc. Through the estimation of the market demand of Rubus products and the estimation of categories of products in China, there is a move to transform the potential wild value into real productive force (Mr. Wan-Quan Chen, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, China, personal communication). Reports from India indicate that R. ellipticus fruits are consumed by local residents (Tewari et al., 1979; Parmar and Kuashal, 1982; Ansari and Nand, 1987), that it is also commercially cultivated in India (Asha Bisht and Jain, 2006), and that nectar sugar is derived from R. ellipticus blossoms (Gupta and Thakur, 1987) and it is a valuable honey plants (Kala, 2007). However, researchers in Nepal and the Himalayan foothills of northern India conceded that whereas fruit of wild R. ellipticus is consumed to some extent as human food, this species is more often regarded as an undesirable weed to be removed where encroachment becomes a problem. R. ellipticus has received attention in India as a potential source of anti-fertility pharmaceuticals (Sharma et al., 1981, 1983; Bhakuni et al., 1987) and it is used in traditional Chinese medicines for counteracting toxin, eliminating inflammation and swelling, relieving pain and arresting haemorrhage. The root cortex of R. ellipticus reportedly contains more than 40% tannin that could be used for tannin extract.

Uses List

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Fuels

  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Genetic importance

  • Gene source

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits
  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Dye/tanning

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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R. ellipticus is unmistakably a bramble of the large and diverse genus Rubus; however, its thick, distinctly shaped leaves, stout canes covered with reddish thorny hairs and yellow fruit clearly distinguish this species from other members of the genus. R. ellipticus var. obcordatus may also exceed 4 m in height in Hawaii, but has smaller leaves than var. ellipticus, 2-5.5 cm long and 1.5-4(5) cm wide, obovoid, with small hairs on the pedicels and calyx.

Lalla and Cheek (2014) list differences between R. ellipticus and the related invasive plant in South Africa Rubus cuneifolius. These include the red bristles on the stems (no bristles in R. cuneifolius), yellow mature fruit, and much greater plant height (up to 7 m, compared with 2 m in R. cuneifolius).

Prevention and Control

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Control in its native habitats is by manual or mechanical removal from sites where it encroaches into agricultural lands. Otherwise, little attention is devoted to this species. In Hawaii, where R. ellipticus is an aggressive invader, the species has been controlled mechanically in pastures by chopping out or bulldozing. Efforts to establish effective herbicidal controls have also been undertaken by researchers in India (Misra and Sharma, 1970; Misra et al., 1972). In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, USA (Cuddihy et al., 1991), cut stem treatments with herbicides were found to be most effective at controlling R. ellipticus var. obcordatus on a local basis. However, the aggressiveness of this plant in Hawaii and its ability to become widely disseminated suggest that the only practical approach will be biological control.

Chemical Control

Chemical methods for the control of Rubus spp. include foliar, stem injection, cut stump and basal stem methods using glyphosate or triclopyr products.

Biological Contol

Wu et al. (2013) investigated natural enemies of R. ellipticus collected in China in 2006-2010. The authors collected 62 herbivorous insects in 22 families, with species considered important including two leaf-rolling moth species, two flea beetle species, and two warty beetle species. The moth species, Epiblema tetragonana and Epinotia ustulana have been further investigated, and found to have a narrow host range and to be widely distributed in Yunnan, China (Wu et al., 2014).

References

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Contributors

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03/06/15 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

29/11/2007 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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