Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Rubus fruticosus
(blackberry)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Rubus fruticosus (blackberry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rubus fruticosus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • blackberry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. fruticosus is highly invasive in some areas, it competes aggressively with native species and can therefore exclude and replace native vegetation, it forms thickets rapidly with a dense canopy of shade and c...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
R. fruticosus: flowers, fruits (ripe and ripening) and leaves of 'blackberry'.
TitleFlowers and fruits
CaptionR. fruticosus: flowers, fruits (ripe and ripening) and leaves of 'blackberry'.
CopyrightDepartment of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy
R. fruticosus: flowers, fruits (ripe and ripening) and leaves of 'blackberry'.
Flowers and fruitsR. fruticosus: flowers, fruits (ripe and ripening) and leaves of 'blackberry'.Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rubus fruticosus L.

Preferred Common Name

  • blackberry

Other Scientific Names

  • Rubus fruticosa

International Common Names

  • English: bramble; European blackberry; scaldhead; shrubby blackberry; wild blackberry; wild blackberry complex
  • Spanish: zarza; zarzamora; zarzamora comun
  • French: murier; murier sauvage; ronce; ronce commune
  • Portuguese: amora silvestre; silva

Local Common Names

  • Croatia: obicna kupina
  • Denmark: almindelig brombær; brombær; klynger
  • Finland: karhunvattu; oimuvatukka
  • Germany: Echte Brombeere
  • Italy: mora di rovo; rogo; roveto; rovo
  • Netherlands: bosbraam; braam; braambes; gewone braam
  • Norway: björnbär; sötbjörnbär
  • Poland: jerzyna; jezyna; jezyna faldowana; jezyna krzewiasta
  • Sweden: bjoernbaer; bjønnbær; bjørnebær; søtbjønnbær

EPPO code

  • RUBFR (Rubus fruticosus)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

R. fruticosus is highly invasive in some areas, it competes aggressively with native species and can therefore exclude and replace native vegetation, it forms thickets rapidly with a dense canopy of shade and can threaten sensitive and fragile ecosystems. R. fruticosus is a regulated noxious weed in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. However, it is still a widely grown commercial fruit species and as such, further imports of plant material are likely.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Rosales
  •                         Family: Rosaceae
  •                             Genus: Rubus
  •                                 Species: Rubus fruticosus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The original Linnaean Rubus fruticosus L., senso typo, has been treated as a broad complex, an aggregate of several slightly differing species that belong to several sections and subsections. Over 300 species have been recognized in the UK (Clapham et al., 1952). For a full list of species included refer to Tutin et al. (1968) and Floraweb (2003). Edees and Newton (1988) published a taxonomic account of Rubus in Britain listing 307 species. There are a greater number in continental Europe, although taxonomic studies are incomplete. In eastern USA, their taxonomy is also unresolved and further complicated by horticultural introductions. Evans et al. (2007) has used RFLPs to examine the systematics of the R. fruticosus aggregate in Australia, correlating 35 DNA phenotypes with 15 taxa. Almost all species of Rubus are agamospecies, segregated from R. fruticosus L. Many of these species arose during the Pleistocene era as a result of hybridization and apomixis (reproduction by seeds which develop without sexual fusion; Tutin et al., 1968). Due to this facultative apomixis, the seed is genetically identical to the parent plant. In the case of the less frequent sexual production, the offspring will be slightly different from the parent plant and will then usually reproduce as a new species by means of apomixis. In combination with the ability of Rubus to spread vegetatively over large areas, this has the consequence that the slightest variation tends to persist and to become recognised as a species, complicating the taxonomy. As such, this datasheet covers R. fruticosus in its broadest aggregate sense.

Description

Top of page

R. fruticosus is a very prickly, scrambling, woody shrub with a perennial root system and biennial canes. It grows up to 2 m or more tall and is extremely variable in leaf shape and plant form. Stems are variable, semi-erect canes, which grow up to 8 or 10 m long. The canes may be green, purplish, or red and have generally backward pointing thorns, and are moderately hairy, round or angled, sometimes bearing small, stalked glands. They are arching, entangling, and woody. Stems can root at the tips to form new plants and new stems grow from the base each year. Roots are stout, branched, creeping underground, growing vertically to a maximum depth of 1.5 m depending on soil type, from a woody crown up to 20 cm in diameter. Secondary roots grow horizontally from the crown for 30-60 cm, and then grow down vertically. Many thin roots grow in all directions from the secondary roots (Weber, 1995; Bruzzese 1998; Roy et al. 1998; Anon, 2001). The alternate leaves are divided into 3 or 5 serrated, shortly stalked, oval leaflets, which are arranged palmately, coloured dark green on top and pale beneath. Some taxa have the underside of leaves covered in pale hairs. Stalks and mid-ribs are prickly. Flowers are white to pink, 2-3 cm in diameter, with five petals and numerous stamens, in many-flowered clusters. In the northern hemisphere, R. fruticosus flowers approximately from May to August, in the southern hemisphere from November to April. The fruit is an aggregated berry, 10-20 mm long, changing colour from green to red to black as it ripens, made up of approximately twenty to fifty single-seeded drupelets. Seeds are deeply and irregularly pitted, oval, coloured light to dark brown, and 2.6-3.7 mm long and 1.6-2.5 mm wide.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

Top of page

R. fruticosus L. agg. is native to much of Europe. The genus Rubus is distributed in all continents except in Antarctica, with a northern limit of 65-75°N (approximating to the Arctic Circle) including areas with extreme aridity (Weber, 1995). In the tropics and sub-tropics, the genus is restricted to mountain areas, but is not known to occur in East Africa (Luke Q, National Museums of Kenya, personal communication, 2004). The distribution list indicates the native range and the exotic range where it is considered invasive. R. fruticosus is considered to be present in many other countries as a commercial species.

Distribution Table

Top of page

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

AfghanistanRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Shimuzu et al., 2001
TurkeyRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014

Africa

South AfricaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Bromilow, 2001

North America

USARestricted distributionUSDA-APHIS, 2000; USDA-NRCS, 2002; EPPO, 2014

Europe

AustriaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
BelgiumPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
BulgariaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
Czech RepublicPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
DenmarkPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
FrancePresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
GermanyPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
HungaryPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
IrelandPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
ItalyPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
MoldovaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
NetherlandsPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
NorwayPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
PolandPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
PortugalPresentScott et al., 2002
RomaniaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Central RussiaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
SlovakiaPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
SwedenPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
SwitzerlandPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
UKPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
UkrainePresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNativeRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2003

Oceania

AustraliaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-New South WalesWidespreadIntroducedlate 1830s Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-QueenslandWidespreadIntroducedlate 1830s Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-South AustraliaWidespreadIntroduced1842 Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-TasmaniaWidespreadIntroduced1845 Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-VictoriaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-Western AustraliaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
New ZealandRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Webb et al., 1998; Pennycook, 1998; Roy et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

Generally, introduction and spread of R. fruticosus L. agg. have been intentional as a fruit crop or a barrier hedge. In Australia, blackberry was evidently planted in New South Wales by the late 1830s. In 1842 blackberry was first recorded as being deliberately introduced from Europe into Adelaide, South Australia for its fruit. It was included in the sale catalogue of a Tasmanian nursery by 1845. Blackberry was recognised to have become a significant weed by the 1880s, and first proclaimed a noxious weed in Gippsland, Victoria in 1894.(Anon., 2001). The initial introduction to New Zealand was probably as a food plant by early settlers and other introductions can be traced back to distributions of plants from the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in the mid 1800s (Webb et al., 1988). In New Zealand, the initial spread of blackberry was intentional by planting for use as a food source and to form hedges, with unintentional distribution via humans, sheep and particularly by introduced birds, and by horticultural escape (Healy, 1952; Guthrie-Smith, 1953).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

It is still a widely grown commercial fruit species and as such, further imports of plant material is likely. In New Zealand, it is on a list of 110 species of National Surveillance Plant Pests, prohibited from propagation, sale, distribution, and commercial display throughout the country (Pennycook, 1998). R. fruticosus is listed as a 'weed of national significance' in Australia (Anon, 2001) and presently occupies about 9 million hectares of land (Evans K, Tasmania Institute of Agricultural Research, Australia, personal communication, 2004). In the USA, it is included in the federal noxious weed list (USDA-APHIS, 2002). In South Africa, R. fructicosus is legally recognized as an invasive plant and is listed as a Category 2 Invader Plant under the Conservation Of Agricultural Resources Act, i.e. species with commercial or utility value, which may only be grown with a permit under controlled circumstances (Wildy E, Alien Invader Plants Project, South Africa, personal communication, 2004).

Habitat

Top of page It occurs on wasteland, cemeteries, hedgerows, fence lines, roadsides, steep banks, hillsides, scrubby hillsides, forest, plantations, scrub margins, clearings, fen land, swamps, damp places, creeks, streamsides, river banks, river flats, river terraces, pasture, damp and neglected pasture (Webb et al., 1988).

Habitat List

Top of page
CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land 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)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page Large infestations threaten both agricultural and natural ecosystems resulting in the reduction of productivity of land for forestry, agriculture or horticulture. R. fruticosus rarely invades well-managed pastures, established tree plantations or intact native vegetation, but in disturbed sites it can quickly become the dominant species. It has, however, become a serious weed of young plantations and poorly managed grasslands, in orchards and some natural woodlands.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Physiology and Phenology

Seed requires stratification and germinates in spring. Seedlings are poor competitors, but this is compensated by the large amount of seed produced annually. Shading and competition affect seedling survival negatively and most seedlings die in early establishment; Amor (1971) found that only 15% of seedlings at one study site survived the first year. Those which succeed in establishing can grow up to four canes, with a length of up to 1 m, producing daughter plants in their first autumn.

Blackberries may also vary in their deciduous nature. The evergreen blackberry is the main type in cultivation in Washington and Oregon in the USA. Evergreen types often have canes which persist for more than 2 years, new laterals being produced each year.

Reproductive Biology

R. fruticosus is able to propagate vegetatively from 'daughter' canes which can root where contacting the soil. It produces large quantities of fleshy fruits apomictically but also sexually by pollination via insects. Oldest crowns in thickets being found were 7.5 years old and belonged to R. procerus and R. ulmifolius hybrids. The longevity of crowns of other species in the aggregate is not known (Amor, 1971; Bruzzese, 1998).

Environmental Requirements

R. fruticosus is generally a temperate species preferring a range of soil conditions and rainfall regimes. In Australia, it is restricted to temperate climates with an annual rainfall of at least 700 mm, and occurs at any altitude (Bruzzese, 1998), and R. fruticosus can grow up to elevations of 1600 m in the USA (Ertter, 1993). It requires moist soil but can tolerate some drought, or even in areas with extreme aridity (Weber, 1995). The plant can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure (Bean and Clarke, 1991; Huxley et al., 1992). When established, R. fruticosus can grow in full shade in deep woodland, semi-shade in light woodland, or no shade situations, but in full shade fruit production is reduced and fruits will ripen later.

For commercial production of blackberries, winter chilling is required and the crop will withstand -20°C when dormant. Later flowering than raspberries, flowers are not usually damaged by frost although young shoots are frost sensitive. Blackberries will not tolerate waterlogged soils, drought or excessive periods of low humidity (Jackson et al., 2011).

Associations

Numerous animal species, especially birds and small mammals, use R. fruticosus as a source of food and for habitat. It is also associated with arbuscular mycorrhiza (Helgason et al., 2002).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0 1600

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -18

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall700mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral
  • very acid

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Phragmidium bulbosum Pathogen Leaves
Phragmidium violaceum Pathogen Leaves

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

Pennycook (1998) lists twenty-one insects, five phytophagous or predatory mites and one nematode species recorded on Rubus in New Zealand. Most of these invertebrates feed on different plant species, and those specific to Rubus have a wide host range within this genus. In addition, nineteen fungal pathogens are listed, causing wilts, blights, root rots, cane spots and leaf spots. Most of them cause only insignificant symptoms on R. fruticosus and/or affect also a range of other hosts. Bruzzese (1980) states that though more than 40 phytophagous species occur on R. fruticosus, it appears that they have only little effect in suppressing populations of this species. Viruses found infecting R. fruticosus to various degrees, amongst a range of other host species are the aphid-vectored Raspberry leaf curl virus (Stace-Smith, 1991a) and Black raspberry necrosis virus (Stace-Smith, 1991b), and the nematode-vectored Strawberry latent ringspot virus (Cooper, 1986). According to EPPO (2003), R. fruticosus is a minor host of the following quarantine pests: Anthonomus signatus, Apple mosaic virus, Arabis mosaic virus, Black raspberry latent virus, Cherry leafroll virus, Melacosoma americanum, Naupactus leucoloma, Quadraspidiotus perniciosus, Strawberry latent ringspot virus, Thrips imaginis, Tomato black ring virus, Tomato ringspot virus; and an incidental host for: Tobacco ringspot virus, Anthonomus bisignifer, Cacoecimorpha pronubana, and Raspberry ringspot virus.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Seed can be dispersed along watercourses, but the principal means of dispersal is by animals after feeding on the fruit. Small mammals and livestock, also humans may assist in dispersal, but the main dispersal agents are undoubtedly birds. As stem fragments can root and produce new plants, there exists the possibility that plant parts may be spread by agricultural and cutting machinery to new areas. R. fruticosus is still traded as a fruit crop, and sold by nurseries, garden centres, by mail order and via the Internet and as such is also likely to spread intentionally.

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsIntentional/unintentional transport of seeds Yes
Containers and packaging - woodUnintentional transport of seeds Yes
Land vehiclesUnintentional transport of seeds Yes
MailInternet Yes
Soil, sand and gravelUnintentional transport of seeds Yes

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds
Growing medium accompanying plants seeds
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Leaves
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
Wood

Impact Summary

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

Impact

Top of page The impact is discussed controversially, as blackberry is considered a weed in some parts of the world, especially in Australia and New Zealand but it is also a desirable fruit crop (Groves, 1998). Though the pest status of blackberry has declined in New Zealand because of improved pasture management techniques and potent new herbicides, it is still ranked as the country's fourth most serious weed. The estimated economic impact to New Zealand's plantation forestry is $NZ10 million a year, and to its farmland $NZ10.5 million a year (Pennycook, 1998). The total estimated loss of $NZ20.5 million, is still much larger than the national annual value of the small but expanding Rubus fruit industry, estimated to be worth about $NZ12.5 million to the economy (Pennycook, 1998). In Australia, production loss by impacts of blackberry was estimated at $A42 million (Field and Bruzzese, 1984), whereas the economic benefit per year was estimated at only $A660,000 from fruit production and increases in honey production (Field and Bruzzese, 1984). Thus in these two countries, the economic costs outweigh the benefits, by over 50 times in the case of Australia. Blackberry thickets can also have negative economic impacts by forming dense barriers restricting the movement of livestock, and the thorny stems cause injury to animals and contaminate wool.

Environmental Impact

Top of page

R. fruticosus can degrade the natural environment by altering habitats as a result of crowding out and suppressing the growth of native vegetation. Blackberry thickets provide habitats for introduced birds and animals such as foxes and rabbits in Australia (Groves et al., 1998). Due to its biennial growth habit, the majority of biomass in a blackberry thicket is dead material from previous years, resulting in the exacerbation of fire hazards in larger infestations (Bruzzese, 1998). Around the root mass, soil erosion is accelerated along watercourses. This in turn results in an increase in sedimentation within the watercourses and the spread of blackberry seeds downstream. The extensive use of herbicides to control blackberry is environmentally undesirable.

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page

R. fruticosus can threaten populations of certain native plant species that are already rare or endangered (Briggs, 1998; Davies 1998). Williams and Timmins (1990) listed blackberry as a significant problem weed of protected natural areas, which can permanently alter the structure, successional processes, and composition of organisms present in native communities. However, dense blackberry thickets can provide nesting and sheltering sites for birds and mammals.

Threatened Species

Top of page
Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Sidalcea nelsonianaUSA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesOregon; WashingtonCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012
Speyeria zerene hippolyta (Oregon silverspot butterfly)USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCalifornia; OregonEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001

Social Impact

Top of page

Due to its vigorous growth and entangling canes, R. fruticosus can cause restriction of access to areas of public land for management purposes and restriction of access by visitors for recreational activities. Dead, dry canes are also undesirable from an aesthetic point of view as well as the nuisance value of the thorny stems. Blackberry invasions can result in loss of amenity, can cause interference with water flow, and prevent the establishment of species with desirable bank-stabilizing attributes. Property values can decrease substantially due to heavy infestations of blackberry. Large thickets can also obstruct visibility along roads.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page

R. fruticosus presents a food source for honey bees, goats, deer (Bruzzese, 1998) and other wild animals as well as for humans. Fruits are highly palatable with high vitamin C content and can be eaten raw, or made into drinks, jams, syrups or various preserves (Bown, 1997). Blackberries are harvested and sold in fresh and processed markets. For the fresh market, they are sold pick-your-own, for local sales, as well as on the international wholesale fresh market. In the processing market, the fruit are typically frozen whole, puréed or juiced and from these basic ‘industrial’ products, hundreds of products are made for sale to consumers in every section of a grocery store. Bakery products, jams and jellies, dairy and cereal products are some of the more common consumer products that contain blackberries. The juice is often fermented to make wines or liqueurs (Janick and Paull, 2008).

Leaves are used in the preparation of herbal teas and the root bark and leaves are used medicinally, being strongly astringent, depurative, diuretic, and vulnerary. Fruits provide a blue dye and a fibre can be obtained from the stems to make string. Blackberry bushes can prevent soil erosion on infertile, disturbed sites (Dersal, 1938).

Uses List

Top of page

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Due to the special taxonomic situation of R. fruticosus, there are a lot of very similar species within the aggregate.

Prevention and Control

Top of page Cultural Control

Depending on the situation, the composition of the soil seed bank and the availability of seed sources, promotion of alternative, competitive species to prevent re-infestation with blackberry can be effective. This method is useful in pastures with reseeding of improved forage grasses, but not recommended where the protection of threatened native species is also a management aim (Groves et al., 1998). Other methods which could be successful are the strategic use of fire, the maintenance of soil fertility to prevent the establishment of blackberry, and by goat grazing (Vere and Holst, 1979).

Mechanical Control

Cutting of plants by hand can be effective on smaller infestations but the long flexuous stems and penetrating thorns make this a hazardous task for the operators. Infested sites can be cut with a tractor mower or rotary slasher, and above-ground parts removed mechanically. Roots can then be removed by hand digging or ploughing. R. fruticosus may regenerate from any stem or root fragment, which means that mechanical methods may not usually totally eradicate this species from a site.

Biological Control

A problem for finding a suitable biological control agent is that almost all the invertebrate pests and diseases present on blackberry may cause collateral damage to commercial crops. In the 1980s, the blackberry leaf rust fungus Phragmidium violaceum was identified in Europe as a possible biological control agent. While it was being assessed it was also discovered in Victoria, Australia in 1984, assumed to be from an illegal introduction. Though spreading quickly, it was not as damaging as strains selected during the European work, one of which was introduced into Australia in 1991 (Bruzzese and Lane, 1996; Amor et al., 1998). In New Zealand, P. violaceum was first observed in 1990 and is now widely established but has not been recorded from cultivated Rubus. On the other hand, its long-term impact there on invasive blackberry has been minor and localized (Pennycook, 1998). As the susceptibility of different Rubus taxa to individual strains of P. violaceum varies (Bruzzese and Hasan, 1986), a better knowledge of blackberry taxonomy and accurate taxonomic keys are necessary to find suitable strains for the different species within the aggregate. Research in Australia on the taxonomy and genotypes of the aggregate has lead to the identification of at least 40 different genotypes, some of which appear resistant to this rust fungus (Evans et al., 1998; Evans et al., 1999). The effects depend on climate conditions, for example if rainfall is high it can be very effective but it does not perform well in less humid climates (Mahr and Bruzzese, 1998). A research programme organized by the CRC for Weed Management Systems with funding from the CRC, Agriculture Western Australia and CSIRO Entomology began in 1999 to identify rust strains in Europe which are virulent on the genotypes of Rubus characterized as resistant in Australia. With an improved identification of R. fruticosus in Australia, a more detailed search for effective strains of P. violaceum is now possible. A strain has been selected for further study from surveys in Portugal and a trap garden of Australian clones of blackberry was established in France with cultures of trapped rusts being studied for their relative effectiveness against R. fruticosus (Scott et al., 2002).

Chemical Control

Several herbicides have been found to be effective, applied by knapsack or mistblower for smaller infestations, handgun and hose units for larger infestations. These include triclopyr alone or in mixture with picloram (Milne and Dellow, 1998), metasulfuron, amitrole, glyphosate and hexazinone (Anon., 2004). Often inaccessibility, excessively large infestations and the risk of damage to native vegetation make control by herbicides difficult or impossible (Bruzzese and Lane, 1996; Amor et al., 1998).

Integrated Control

According to Bruzzese and Lane (1996), a range of control techniques will work much better than any isolated weed control technique. Therefore, it is very important to consider every available control option when a control programme is planned.

References

Top of page

Amor RL, 1971. A study of the ecology and control of blackberry (Rubusfruticosus L. agg.). PhD Thesis, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

Amor RL, 1974. Ecology and control of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.) 2. Reproduction. Weed Research, 14(4):231-238

Amor RL, Richardson RG, Pritchard GH, Bruzzese E, 1998. Rubus fruticosus L. agg. In: Panetta FD, Groves RH, Shepherd RCH. Richardson RG, Melbourne, FJ, eds. Biology of Australian Weeds. Vol. 2, 225-246.

Anon, 2001. Weeds of National Significance. Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.) Strategic Plan.,

Anon, 2004. Weed result index blackberry. Weed Control Manual for the Bay of Plenty. http://www.envbop.govt.nz/weeds/weed26.asp.

Bean WJ, Clarke DL, 1991. Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. 8th edition. John Murray Pubs Ltd.

Bown D, 1997. Encyclopedia of Herbs and their Uses. London, UK: Dorling Kindersley Publishing.

Briggs JD, 1998. Impact of blackberry on an endangered plant species. In: Groves RH, Williams J, Corey S, eds. Towards an Integrated Management System for Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.). Proceedings of a workshop held at Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales, December 15-16 1997. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):179.

Bromilow C, 2001. Problem Plants of South Africa. Pretoria, South Africa: Briza Publications.

Bruzzese E, 1980. The phytophagous insect fauna of Rubus spp. (Rosaceae) in Victoria, a study on the biological control of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 19(1):1-6

Bruzzese E, 1998. The biology of blackberry in south-eastern Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):160-162; 8 ref.

Bruzzese E, Hasan S, 1986. Host specificity of the rust Phragmidium violaceum, a potential biological control agent of European blackberry. Annals of Applied Biology, 108(3):585-596

Bruzzese E, Lane M, 1996. The blackberry management handbook. Frankston: Keith Turnbull Research Institute.

Clapham AR, Tutin TG, Warburg EF, eds, 1952. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Davies RJP, 1998. Regeneration of blackberry-infested native vegetation. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):189-195; 2 pp. of ref.

Dersal, van WR, 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion control and wildlife values. Washington DC, USA: USDA.

Dixon, B, Mihajlovic, B, Couture, H, Farber, JM, 2016. Qualitative risk assessment: Cyclospora cayetanensis on fresh raspberries and blackberries imported into Canada, 3618-32.

DOE, 1994. Genetically modified crops and their wild relatives - A UK perspective. Department of the Environment, Research Report No. 1.

Edees, E.S., Newton, A., 1988. Brambles of the British Isles, Viii+377 pp.

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm

Ertter B, 1993. Rubus. In: Hickman JC, ed. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. Berkeley, USA: University of California Press.

Evans KJ, Symon DE, Hosking JR, Mahr FA, Jones MK, Roush RT, 1999. Towards improved biocontrol of blackberries, Proceedings of the 12th Australian Weeds Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, 325-329.

Evans KJ, Symon DE, Roush RT, 1998. Taxonomy and genotypes of the Rubus fruticosus L. aggregate in Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):152-156; 32 ref.

Evans KJ, Symon DE, Whalen MA, Hosking JR, Barker RM, Oliver JA, 2007. Systematics of the Rubus fruticosus aggregate (Rosaceae) and other exotic Rubus taxa in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany, 20(3):187-251. http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/150.htm

Fell, G, Boyens, M, Baumgarte, S, 2007. Tiefkühlfrüchte als Risikofaktor für Gastroenteritis-Ausbrüche durch Noroviren. Ergebnisse einer Ausbruchsuntersuchung im Sommer 2005 in Hamburg [Frozen berries as a risk factor for outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis. Results of an outbreak investigation in the summer of 2005 in Hamburg]., 50230-236.

Field RP, Bruzzese E, 1984. A case for biological control of blackberry. Keith Turnbull Research Institute. Unpublished Report 1984/2, 100 pp.

Floraweb, 2003. Daten und Informationen zu Wildpflanzen und zur Vegetation Deutschlands. http://www.floraweb.de.

Groves RH, 1998. Introduction. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):151-152; 10 ref.

Groves RH, Williams J, Roush RT, 1998. Towards the integrated management of blackberry: workshop summary and recommendations. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):196-198; 15 ref.

Hackl, E, Holzl, C, Konlechner, C, Sessitsch, A, 2013. Food of plant origin: production methods and microbiological hazards linked to food-borne disease. Reference: FT/EFSA/BIOHAZ/2012/01 Lot 1 (Food of plant origin with high water content such as fruits, vegetables, juices and herbs). Supporting Publications 2013:EN-402. Vienna, Austria: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, 253 pp.

Healy AJ, 1952. The introduction and spread of weeds. Proceedings of the 5th New Zealand Weed Control Conference, 5-16.

Helgason T, Merryweather JW, Denison J, Wilson P, Young JPW, Fitter AH, 2002. Selectivity and functional diversity in arbuscular mycorrhizas of co-occurring fungi and plants from a temperate deciduous woodland. Journal of Ecology (Oxford), 90(2):371-384; 48 ref.

Huxley AJ, Griffiths M, Levy M, 1992. The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. London, UK; New York, USA: Macmillan Press.

Jackson D, Looney N, Morely-Bunker M, 2011. Temperate and subtropical fruit production [ed. by 3r]. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 327 pp.

Janick, J., Paull, R. E., 2008. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts.. CABI, xviii + 954 pp.. 9780851996387.

Jennings DL, 1988. Raspberries and blackberries: their breeding, diseases and growth. London, UK: Academic Press.

Kraft T, Nybom H, 1995. DNA fingerprinting and biometry can solve some taxonomic problems in apomictic blackberries (Rubus subgen. Rubus). Watsonia, 20, 329-43.

Kraft T, Nybom H, Werlemark G, 1996. DNA fingerprint variation in some apomictic blackberry species (Rubus subg. Rubus, Rosaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 199:93-108.

Litz, R. E., 2005. Biotechnology of fruit and nut crops.. CAB International, xxiv + 723 pp.. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20053001306 0851996620. doi: 10.1079/9780851996622.0000

Mahr FA, Bruzzese E, 1998. The effect of Phragmidium violaceum (Shultz) Winter (Uredinales) on Rubus fruticosus L. agg. in south-eastern Victoria. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):182-185; 8 ref.

McGregor G, 1998. Relationships between weedy and commercially grown Rubus species. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):157-159; 5 ref.

Milne BR, Dellow JJ, 1998. Herbicide responses of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.) in Central Tablelands of New South Wales. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):180-181; 7 ref.

NASS, 2016. National Agricultural Statistics Service, https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_Subject/index.php?sector=CROPS [accessed Decmber, 2016]

Parsons WT, Cuthbertson EG, 1992. Noxious Weeds of Australia. Melbourne, Australia: Inkata Press, 692 pp.

Pennycook SR, 1998. Blackberry in New Zealand. Plant Protection Quarterly, 13(4):163-174; 4 pp. of ref.

Perkins-Veazie, P., 2010. Postharvest handling and storage of blackberries and raspberries, 10 5-7 pp.

Pyzner, J., 2006. http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/5dd47469-da9f-4398-ad57-85fdb3e9327e/27320/pub1553blackberriesfinal.pdf Growing blackberries for pleasure and profit. Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service Publication No. 1553. Louisiana, USA: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, 8 pp.

Roy B, Popay I, Champion P, James T, Rahman A, 1998. An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand. Canterbury, New Zealand: New Zealand Plant Protection Society.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004. Flora Europaea Database. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK. http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/FE/fe.html.

Scott JK, Jourdan M, Evans KJ, 2002. Biological control of blackberry: progress towards finding additional strains of the rust fungus, Phragmidium violaceum. 13th Australian Weeds Conference: weeds "threats now and forever?", Sheraton Perth Hotel, Perth, Western Australia, 8-13 September 2002: papers and proceedings, 418-421; 12 ref.

Sedlak, J., Paprstein, F., 2016. Micropropagation of blackberry genotypes., 1133 487-490. http://www.actahort.org/books/1133/1133_75.htm

Shimizu N, Morita H, Hirota S, 2001. Illustrated Book of Naturalized Plants in Japan. Tokyo, Japan: Zennokyo.

Smith, B. J., Miller-Butler, M., 2016. Evaluation of blackberry cultivars adapted to the southeastern United States for susceptibility to postharvest fruit diseases., (No.1133), 461-467. http://www.actahort.org/books/1133/1133_70.htm

Stace-Smith R, 1991. Black raspberry necrosis virus. In: Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Dallwitz MJ, Gibbs AJ, Watson L, Zurcher EJ, eds. Plant Viruses Online: Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. http://image.fs.uidaho.edu/vide/descr100.htm.

Stace-Smith R, 1991. Raspberry leaf curl luteovirus. In: Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Dallwitz MJ, Gibbs AJ, Watson L, Zurcher EJ, eds. Plant Viruses Online: Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. http://image.fs.uidaho.edu/vide/descr668.htm.

Strik BC, Finn CE, Clark JR, Bañados MP, 2008. Worldwide production of blackberries. Acta Horticulturae No. In: IX International Rubus and Ribes Symposium, 1-7th December 2005, Pucon, Chile. Acta Horticulturae, 777 [ed. by Bañados, P. \Dale, A.]. 209-217.

Thompson, A. K., 2010. Controlled atmosphere storage of fruits and vegetables.. (Ed.2) CABI, xvi + 272 pp.. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20103257949 9781845936464. doi: 10.1079/9781845936464.0000

Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burge NA, Moore DM, Valnete DH, Walter SM, Webb DA, 1968. Flora Europaea. Vol. 2. Rosaceae to Umbelliferae , xxvii + 455 pp..

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001. In: Revised Recovery Plan for the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta). US Fish and Wildlife Service, 121 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/010822.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012. In: Nelson's Checker-mallow( Sidalcea nelsoniana). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. US Fish and Wildlife Service, 44 pp.. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc4004.pdf

USDA-APHIS, 2002. Federal Noxious Weed List. USDA, APHIS PPQ. Riverdale, USA. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/permits/fnwsbycat-e.PDF.

USDA-ARS, 2016. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 [slightly revised May, 2016], https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/ [accessed December, 2016]

USDA-NRCS, 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, USA. http://plants.usda.gov.

Vere DT, Holst PJ, 1979. Using goats to control blackberries and briars. Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, 90(4):11-13

Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ, 1988. Flora of New Zealand Volume IV. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, New Zealand: DSIR Botany Division, 1365 pp. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/Book.aspx?fileName=Flora%204.xml

Weber HE, 1995. Gustav Hegi, Illustrierte Flora von Mitteleuropa. Ed.: Conert HJ, Jäger EJ, Kadereit JW, Schultze-Motel W, Wagenitz G, Weber HE. Volume IV, Part 2A, Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledones 2(2). 3rd edition.. Blackwell, Berlin, Germany.

Williams PA, Timmins SM, 1990. Weeds in New Zealand Protected Natural Areas: a Review for the Department of Conservation. Science Research Series 14, Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Conservation.

Links to Websites

Top of page
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.

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map