A close cluster, 10-20 mm diameter of shiny, globular, one seeded, fleshy drupelets (berries) on a small pithy core. Green initially then red then turning purple-black when ripe. Ripe fruit can usually be found from December to February. Up to 80 drupelets in each berry. Conical receptacle dispersed with the fruit and not hollow. Young carpels smooth and hairless (glabrous).
Seeds:Light to dark brown, triangular to oval, 2-3 mm long and pitted deeply and irregularly.
Roots:Large, woody crown, up to 200 mm diameter but are typically smaller. Shallow taproot to 1500 mm deep and extensive shallow lateral roots spreading several metres from the crown and mainly within the top 200 mm of soil. Lateral roots tend to grow horizontally from the crown then turn downwards. Thin roots arise from the laterals roots and grow in all directions. Usually non suckering.
Key Characters:Primocanes with red or dark sessile glands.
Primocanes clearly angled, the angles may be furrowed, at maturity.
Primocanes arching and the bushes vigorous, usually forming dense stands.
Primocane leaves with 3 or 5 leaflets.
Little colour difference between the upper and lower leaf surfaces.
Inflorescences non paniculate, with longer pedicels and fewer flowers than European Blackberries.
Petals always white, not cupped, not touching.
Woody, prickly shrubs.
Leaves of 3-5 pinnate leaflets, or, when 5 the 4 lower ones digitate, i.e. proceeding from the same point on the petiole.
Buds sub globose.
No floral tube.
Calyx single, 5-10 mm long, reflexed.
Carpels becoming little drupes united in a juicy head on the convex torus.
Mature fruit black.
Adapted from J.M. Black, N.T. Burbidge, E.M. Bennett, Robyn & Bill Barker and John Moore.
Perennial. Flowers October to December. Fruits December to February. Seeds germinate from spring to autumn and grow very slowly in the first year usually reaching 50-70 mm height with 3-6 leaves but have a disproportionately large root system. After 3 or 4 years, they develop into a shrub about 1000 mm round. In winter they loose most of their leaves and grow very slowly. In spring and summer they produce new leaves and canes quickly. First year canes (primocanes) emerge, in late winter, from the central crown that may be up to 200 mm round. The primocanes grow very quickly at 50-80 mm per day. New plants are formed vegetatively the next autumn when primocanes form roots where the tips touch the ground. Flowering canes emerge from the primocanes in the second and later years. Canes live for 2-4 years before dying off and old thickets may have over half the canes dead. They flower mainly in the spring and early summer and have ripe fruit from December to February. Fragments of roots and canes may also form new plants. Damaged roots will produce suckers from up to 450 mm deep. Suckering is also common after treatment with herbicides, mechanical removal or cultivation.
Physiology:Tolerates full sun to full shade but plants grow slowly and rarely flower in full shade.
Tolerates frost, fire, drought and periodic inundation.
Reproduction:By seed and daughter plants that form where canes contact the ground and take root.
Produces seed without fertilization. Pollen is required to stimulate ovule development but doesn't fertilize the egg. The pollen can come from the same or other Blackberry plants. The resulting plants are called apomicts and are clones of the mother plant. This means they are very unlikely to develop herbicide resistance or tolerance to biocontrol agents.
Flowering times:Summer in NSW.
November to May in WA 704
R. laudatus tends to have its main flowering from October to December.
Seed Biology and Germination:Fresh seed has a low germination percentage of 10-30%.
Doesn't germinate in dense shade.
Seed short lived in the soil.
R. laudatus seed requires stratification and germinates best in autumn. Stored seed requires one month stratification at about 3°C.
Vegetative Propagules:Tip rooting canes, root fragments and cane cuttings. Stems coppice profusely when cut. Cut roots can sucker from 450 mm underground.
Population Dynamics and Dispersal:
Canes and roots are transported by earth moving equipment and water. Water, birds (especially emus) and foxes spread the seed. 570 and 2460 seeds have been recovered from fox and emu droppings respectively. Dumping of garden refuse is a common source of infestations.
Seedling survival is usually very low and they are very susceptible to shading and competition. Seedlings need at least 44% full sunlight for survival. Blackberry seedlings rarely establish in dense pasture or undisturbed native vegetation.
Most spread is from canes rooting at the tips and forming new daughter plants when the cane dies. Suckering is often increased after spraying with hormone herbicides, slashing, cultivation or burning. In ungrazed situations the size of the thicket usually increases 1-2 metres per year.
Eastern Quolls spread seed in Tasmania.
Origin and History:R. laudatus is from central North America (Missouri and Kansas). The first cultivars were bred by T.B. Bundy in Missouri and later described in 1925. Current cultivars include Kenoyer and probably Early Harvest.
Grown for its fruit in USA and introduced to Australia for fruit production.
Most infestations are now on public lands.
Distribution:NSW, QLD, TAS, WA.
There are no native Rubus species in WA and five introduced Rubus species in WA.
Rubus laudatus is the most common species around Perth in WA.
Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.
Habitats:Water courses and damp areas.
Climate:Temperate, humid and sub-humid regions with an annual rainfall greater than 500 mm.
Soil:More abundant on fertile soils.
Plant Associations:Red gum, jarrah, karri, grassland, grassy woodland, dry to wet sclerophyll forest, cool and temperate rainforest, fresh water wetlands and riparian communities and many others.
Blackberries are picked for food, preserves, jam, pies, wine, liqueurs.
Leaves are used as a tea substitute. Canes are used for securing thatch.
Fruit is rich in vitamin C
Pollen and honey are produced from it.
It has been used as a hedge plant and for controlling stream bank erosion.
Thickets provide a refuge from feral cats for native birds.
Used as a tea in herbal medicine for prevention of diarrhoea and dysentery and the leaves were chewed for bleeding gums 980.
Plains Blackberry was grown commercially in the USA.
A purple dye can be extracted from the fruit 981.
Detrimental:Weeds of pastures, streams, bushland, roadsides, gardens, orchards, plantations and disturbed areas.
Invades pasture land and blocks creeks and rivers.
Reduces access to amenity areas and streams.
In some situations it destabilises banks by channelling water behind the bush to scour and dislodge a section of bank and Blackberry which is washed downstream.
It may form impenetrable thickets that harbours vermin such as foxes and rabbits.
It is an important food source for introduced birds such as starlings and blackbirds.
Old infestations can be a serious fire hazard due to the large number of old dead canes.
Sheep can become entangled in the canes and die.
Very few companion plants survive in the thickets.
It delays or prevents regeneration of forests after thinning or cutting.
In plantations it reduces the growth and establishment of both softwood and hardwood species and interferes with logging.
In 1984 it was estimated that Blackberry in NSW, VIC and TAS was costing about $42M in lost production and control.
It is listed as a 'Weed of National Significance' and a 'Garden Thug'.
Toxicity:Not recorded as toxic.
Legislation:Noxious weed of NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, and WA.
Banned in New Zealand.
In WA, Plains Blackberry is generally eradicated when it occurs south of a line between Bunbury and Collie. Early flowering blackberry bushes in this area should be reported to the Department of Agriculture to determine the species and action required.
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 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.
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 Plains Blackberry because it is apomictic and all plants are clones of the mother plant.
Biological Control:Several biological control agents have been investigated for Blackberry. Three groups of rust (Phragmidium violaceum) have been released in WA. The first in 1985, the second (F15 strain) in 1991 and a mixture of strains in 2005. These rusts have heavily infested the English Blackberry (Rubus anglocandicans) moderately infested Small leaf Blackberry (Rubus ulmifolius) and have not established on the Plains Blackberry (Rubus laudatus) 982.
Acalitus essigi, the eriophyoid mite that causes “Red berry disease” has been found on R. anglocandicans, R. laudatus and R. ulmifolius 983.
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 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 odoratus is similar to Thimbleberry and occurs in SA and Tasmania.
Rubus selmeri = R. laciniatus
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.
NotesConsiderable study of the Rubus fruticosus agg., mostly of R. anglocandicans, was carried out in the 1970's in Victoria. Some of the findings are discussed below.
Herbicides Rubus anglocandicans can be managed effectively by application of herbicides. Amor (Weed Research 15: 39-45, 1975) found a difference in the response of R. anglocandicans (referred to by Amor as R. procerus) and 'R. ulmifolius hybrid' to the herbicide 2,4,5-T. This herbicide is no longer used for blackberry control and presumably 'R. ulmifolius hybrid' is R. leucostachys. Based on the density of live canes following herbicide treatment, R. anglocandicans appeared to be controlled more effectively than the 'R. ulmifolius hybrid', probably because R. anglocandicans had a lower initial density of plants.
Milne and Dellow (Plant Protection Quarterly 13: 180-181, 1998) provide anecdotal evidence that appears to confirm the interaction of herbicide response and blackberry taxa.
Primocane growth and reproduction. Amor (Weed Research 14: 231-238, 1974) found that the horizontal projection of 50 first-year canes of R. anglocandicans ranged from 1.5 to 6.9 m with an average of 3.3 m in one growing season. Of these canes, 96% formed daughter plants at their apices and there were 0.8 daughter plants per square metre within four metres of the edge of the thicket. By the middle of the following summer, daughter plants had cane lengths ranging from 0.5 to 2 m and all daughter plants survived the first winter following tip rooting. The density of live canes of R. anglocandicans averages 18 canes m-2, in contrast to 'R. ulmifolius hybrid' which averages 52 canes m-2 (Amor, Weed Research 15: 39-45, 1975). 'R. ulmifolius hybrid' is what we now call R. leucostachys.
Seed production and germination. Amor (Weed Research 14: 231-238, 1974) also estimated seed production for 7-year-old thickets of R. anglocandicans growing in the open at Flinders in Victoria to be 7,000-13,000 seeds m-2 of blackberry thicket. Seed germination rates are low according to Amor and seedling survival is dependant on light intensity. He further found that there was no survival of seedlings of R. anglocandicans receiving radiation less than a mean of 250 cal cm-2 day-1 (44% of full sunlight) between December and February. This finding is supported by a study in a native eucalypt forest in Victoria (Amor and Stevens 1976) where a reduction in Blackberry was associated with declining light intensity and increased distance from a road. Indeed, weedy Blackberry forms dense thickets on cleared farmland whereas growth is restricted by native forest or pine plantations, except at forest margins and where there are gaps in the forest canopy. Once established, however, weedy Blackberry remains a dominant species in the understorey, thus differing from its ecology in Europe where the R. fruticosus agg. is successional (Peterken and Jones, Journal of Ecology 77, 401-429, 1989).
Seed Dispersal and Germination. Birds and foxes contribute to the dispersal of blackberry seed. Brunner et al. (Weed Research 16, 171-173, 1976) measured monthly variations of R. anglocandicans (as R. procerus) seeds in fox and emu droppings at Dartmouth and Sherbrooke in Victoria. At Dartmouth, 89% of fox droppings collected in March contained blackberry seed, while droppings of emu at the same site contained a mean of 2460 blackberry seeds per dropping. Percentage seed germination from fox droppings was 22% at the Dartmouth site and 35% at the Sherbrooke site. The percentage germination of seed from fox droppings at the Dartmouth site was equivalent to the germination percentage for seed collected directly from berries, indicating that ingestion was not necessary for germination.
[Notes provided by K. Evans (Nov. 2003)]
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