Cutleaf Blackberry

Rubus laciniatus Willd.

Rubus laciniatus is a member of the European Rubus fruticosus aggregate.
Synonyms - Rubus laciniatus ssp. laciniatus, Rubus laciniatus ssp. selmeri, Rubus selmeri.

Family: Rosaceae.


Rubus is from the Latin ruber meaning red and refers to the red immature berries.
Laciniatus refers to the deeply divided leaf on some forms.
Cutleaf Blackberry refers to the deeply divided leaves and the black, berry fruits.

Other names:


Cutleaf Blackberry is an arching or sprawling, thorny, perennial shrub with sharply angled canes and leaves with 3-5 leaflets. The pink to white flowers have 5 petals. The berry like fruits are initially red and turn black when ripe.


See the Weedy Blackberry and Rose key.



First leaves:


Alternate. 3-5 leaflets, arranged like fingers on a hand (digitately).
Stipules - Attached to the petiole.
Petiole - Petiole (20)50-95(110) mm long. Lower petiolule (0.5)3-12 mm long, Lateral petiolule (1)5-35 mm long, terminal petiolule (15)20-45 mm long.
Blade - of leaflets. Entire to deeply dissected. Terminal leaflet (20)45-70 mm long x (10)40-95 mm wide, broadly egg shaped. Base rounded, although individual segments may have an unequal almost wedge shaped (subcuneate) base. Margin coarsely serrate to deeply double toothed (biserrate). Tip pointed (acuminate). Lower surface green and similar colour to the upper surface. Lower surface sparsely felted below with abundant glistening pilose hairs, lamina visible. Upper surface hairy to almost hairless.


Primocanes arching, sharply angled, the angles furrowed or not. Sparse non glandular hairs which may disappear with age. No waxy covering. Prickles to 7 mm long, straight or curved, declined, mainly confined to the angles, 9-17 per 50 mm length.
Primocanes take root where they touch the ground near their ends.
Floricane similar to primocane; leaves with 3, rarely 5 leaflets, entire, becoming simple below inflorescence; petiole 4-9 cm long; lower petiolule 0-6 mm long, lateral petiolule 2-25 mm long, terminal petiolule 15-40 mm long; terminal leaflet 45-90 mm long, 30-70(80) mm wide.

Flower head:

Inflorescence pyramidal, wide and leafy. Main axis (rachis) with non glandular hairs as on the primocane, but dense.


White with 5 petals and on stalks (pedicels) 20-40 mm long.
Ovary - Styles green. Young carpels glabrous. Receptacle conical.
Sepals - 10-15 mm long, with prickles mixed with dense non glandular hairs. Tip often laciniate and leaf-like and extending to15 mm long.
Petals - 5, pink fading to white, 6-15 mm long, 5-9 mm wide, elliptic, not touching, not crumpled, apex 1-3 notched or toothed.
Stamens - Many, similar in length to styles. Filaments pale pink to white.
Anthers - without hairs when young.


Oblong to globular berry. Initially green turning red then ripening black, not separating from receptacle, not hollow.



Usually non suckering.

Key Characters:

Primocane leaves with 3 or 5 leaflets which are deeply cut into lobes.
Primocanes which are sparingly non-glandular pubescent or glabrous and clearly angled at maturity, the angles flat or furrowed.
Primocanes arching.
Not a marked colour difference between the upper and lower leaf surfaces.
Floral rachis pubescent with non-glandular hairs.
Sepals with prolonged apex (to 15 mm long), which is leaf-like and sometimes lobed.
Petals initially pink, fading to white.
Petals lobed or toothed apically, not touching.
Adapted from Robyn and Bill Barker.


Life cycle:



Tolerates full sun to full shade but plants grow slowly in full shade.


By seed and tip rooting or layering.

Flowering times:

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seed short lived in the soil.

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids and Varieties:

There are entire leaved forms that grade into the cut-leaf forms and often coexist in the same locality.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Long distance spread by emus, birds, foxes and animals dispersing seed. Short distance spread mainly by tip rooting of the canes.
Initial infestations from intentional planting for the edible berries.

Origin and History:

Native to north western Europe.


Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Water courses and damp areas.


Temperate, humid and sub-humid regions with an annual rainfall greater than 500 mm.


Plant Associations:



Berries are picked for food, preserves, jam, pies, wine, liqueurs.
Fruit is rich in vitamin C.


Environmental weed of bushland and disturbed areas.
Forms dense impenetrable thickets.
Reduces access to amenity areas, particularly along streams.


Not recorded as toxic.


Declared plant across Australia.

Management and Control:

Grazing prevents tip rooting, goats and deer are more effective than sheep and cattle. Sheep or cattle rarely eat leaves, but cattle nibble the new young shoots and cause trampling damage, which usually stops or slows the rate of spread.
Goats are becoming a favoured method of non-chemical control. Infested areas are grazed with 7.5 goats per ha in the first year, then 1.25 goats per ha in subsequent years.
Slashing alone is ineffective but may assist the Blackberry rust biological control agent and can be used to allow access for drilling into the crown to apply herbicides.
If necessary, slash in winter before herbicide application. Late slashing can decrease the effectiveness of herbicides.
A single cultivation usually increases the infestation and multiple cultivations whilst effective may lead to erosion and soil structure problems.
Scalping to 30 cm and root raking can be effective and expensive and requires a follow up with other control measures to control re-shooting root and stem fragments and seedlings. Rehabilitation of the site is required to prevent reinfestation.
Mechanical removal, or slashing and burning followed by cultivation, can provide control if repeated regularly and then followed by planting of a competitive, preferably perennial, pasture species that are grazed by cattle or goats.
Blackberry seedlings rarely establish in dense pasture or undisturbed native vegetation.
Control with herbicides is usually the most cost effective. Metsulfuron and triclopyr plus picloram have provided the best results. Glyphosate can be used in home gardens or other sensitive areas. Dead canes may be burnt or slashed in the following season to allow access and rehabilitation of the site.
Hand weeding is difficult because the seedlings are difficult to pull and new plants often establish from broken roots.
Fire provides little control alone but assists access for herbicide application or other controls.
Stagger the removal of large infestations to allow native animals to relocate.
Triclopyr (Garlon®) or triclopyr + picloram (Grazon®) generally provides good control any time the Blackberry is actively growing with good leaf area from October to April. Metsulfuron appears to have an optimal application time of November to March and glyphosate should be restricted to the December to March period.
Basal bark applications using Access® plus diesel can be used where canes are removed mechanically.
In Pine plantations hexazinone can be used.
Follow up treatments are essential for high levels of control and to control suckering at the periphery of the bush in the season following spraying.
Low volume spraying is usually effective providing the amount of active ingredient applied per bush is kept constant.
For high volume spraying use 1 litre of mix for each 2.5 cubic metres of Blackberry bush (or 2.5 square metres of low lying Blackberry). This is equivalent to about 4000 L/ha of spray mix being applied.
In large infestations, consider using the cheaper metsulfuron for a year or two to reduce the size of the infestation then follow up with the more effective and costly triclopyr + picloram herbicides.


Eradication strategies:

Mechanical control is difficult and most of the root system must be removed for effective control.
It is difficult to eradicate. 3 annual, summer applications of 1 L of Grazon® plus 250 mL of Pulse® Penetrant in 100 L of water has provided eradication on 30% of sites when assessed 10 years later. Replant native species after control has been achieved.
On large infestations, 10 g metsulfuron(600g/kg) plus 250 mL Pulse® Penetrant in 100 L water, applied in summer when the Blackberry is actively growing, provides a cheaper option to reduce the size of the infestation before Grazon® is used.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.
It is extremely unlikely that herbicide resistance will develop in Cutleaf Blackberry because it is apomictic and all plants are clones of the mother plant.

Biological Control:

Biological control agents introduced for European Blackberry control have little effect on Cutleaf Blackberry.

Related plants:

There are no native Rubus species in WA.
Blackberry (Rubus anglocandicans = Rubus discolor = Rubus procerus, Rubus fruticosus, Rubus ulmifolius)
Blackberry (Rubus anglocandicans) is the main weedy variety in WA. Its main flowering is in December to January and it has white flowers (though it may be pinkish in the bud). The leaves tend to be whitish on the lower surface.
Boysenberry is a cross between a Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), a Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), an American Dewberry (Rubus aboriginum) and a Loganberry (Rubus × loganobaccus). It has narrow straight thorns.
California Dewberry (Rubus ursinus) is not naturalised in Australia.
Cutleaf Blackberry (Rubus laciniatus ssp. laciniatus) has cut leaf - see diagram.
Dewberry (Rubus roribaccus) is in NSW and Victoria.
Elmleaf Blackberry (Rubus ulmifolius) has pinkish petals and smaller leaves than R. anglocandicans. Some varieties are thornless.
Keriberry (Rubus rugosus) has leaves that are green on top and whitish underneath and roundish canes covered in brown hairs.
Kittatinny Blackberry (Rubus bellobatus)
Loganberry (Rubus loganobaccus, Rubus x loganobaccus) has narrow straight thorns and usually flowers later than blackberry.
Mountain Raspberry (Rubus gunnianus)
Native Raspberry (Rubus hillii = Rubus moluccanus var. trilobus A.R.Bean) is a native of the east coast of Australia and has simple palmately lobed leaves
that tend to be green on the upper an lower surfaces. The flowers are white with no pink tinges there are glandular hairs on the canes that look like red dots under a hand lens.
Plains or Bundy (American) Blackberry (Rubus laudatus) flowers in September to November with fruit in December - somewhat earlier than Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Rose-leaved Bramble (Rubus rosifolius) is a native plant of the east coast of Australia.
Thimbleberry (Rubus parvifolius, Rubus rosifolius) is a native plant of the east coast of Australia and Tasmania. It has almost stalkless leaflets with the upper side being green and the underside almost white. The flowers are pink to red flowers on 2-3 cm stalks.
Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)
Yellow Raspberry (Rubus ellipticus)
Rubus alceifolius
Rubus chloocladus
Rubus cissburiensis
Rubus discolor = Rubus procerus is not in Australia but the older literature refers to R. anglocandicans as R. discolor in Western Australia and R. procerus in the eastern states.
Rubus koehleri
Rubus leightonii
Rubus odoratus is similar to Thimbleberry and occurs in SA and Tasmania.
Rubus polyanthemus
Rubus pyramidalis
Rubus radula
Rubus rosaceus
Rubus selmeri = R. laciniatus
Rubus vestitus

Apple (Pirus malus), Pear (Pirus communis), Quince (Cydonia vulgaris), Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), Plum (Prunus domestica), Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), Almond (Prunus amygdalus), Peach (Prunus persica) and Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) are all in the same family as Raspberry.

Plants of similar appearance:

See the Weedy Blackberry and Rose key.
Climbing Roses.


Barker, Robyn and Barker, Bill (2005). Blackberry. An identification tool to introduced and native Rubus in Australia. Edition 1.00. State Herbarium of South Australia.

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume 1. P533. Diagram


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