Brambles and Allies

Himalayan Giant Bramble Salmonberry Common Raspberry Cut-leaved Bramble

What are they?

The five-petalled flowers and fleshy fruits are a good indicator that these plants are in the rose family (Rosaceae). There can be few people that have not stumbled into or snagged themselves on the prickly stems of brambles, while the fruits, known as blackberries, are familiar to almost everyone who may have been for a walk in the great outdoors in late summer. But this group also contains a number of other, closely-related species, that share similar-looking fruits and similar, cane-like stems that carry sharp prickles or bristles.

Where are they found?

Brambles are abundant throughout the region in many habitats, especially woodland, hedgerows, old banks, rough ground and unkempt corners. Some species favour damp woodland, while others are escapes from cultivation so are typically found in disturbed or urban environments.

Identification

The various introduced species are quite easily identified by features of their flowers, fruits and stems. On the other hand, the brambles are one of our most difficult groups to identify and this page only represents a small number of the commoner forms. Over 100 microspecies of bramble have been recorded in East Anglia and their identification is currently only known to a small handful of people - we await the book!! Most brambles are apomictic species, a technical term which essentially means that plants generally self-pollinate, resulting in entire populations of plants that are clones of each other. Such clonal populations tend to be largely confined to more pristine habitats such as older, well managed woodland, species rich fens and heaths and sites with generally less human influence. Throughout the rest of the landscape, in farmed landscapes and rough or disturbed ground, most brambles will be one of three species (or their hybrids as these forms can sexually reproduce) and these three are covered first on this page. Typically, brambles put out strong, non-flowering shoots which are known as primocanes. In the second year, these canes produce shorter side shoots and it is these that carry the flowers.



Himalayan Giant Bramble      Rubus armeniacus

Introduced. Very common throughout the region, especially in fertile land, rough ground and urban/semiurban habitats. Flowers June, with a few flowers often lasting into autumn. A very distinctive species, being very large and vigorous, the primocanes usually reddish, strongly ribbed, with a slight white bloom and with scattered, rather stout prickles. Flowers relatively large, white. Leaves with five leaflets, the leaflets with long stalks and pale, whitish undersides. Fruits large. Often grown commercially as the variety 'Himalayan Giant'.

Himalayan Giant Bramble Himalayan Giant Bramble Himalayan Giant Bramble Himalayan Giant Bramble
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Primocane
Himalayan Giant Bramble
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Elm-leaved Bramble      Rubus ulmifolius

Native. Very common throughout the region in hedgerows and rough ground. Seemingly the only bramble in our region that does well in open, sunny places. Flowers July to October. A much-branched species, often forming dense tangles or low mounds of twiggy growth. Flowers clear pink. Leaves with five leaflets, the leaflets relatively narrow and elm-like, with whitish undersides. Fruits often very sweet.

Elm-leaved Bramble Elm-leaved Bramble


Common Dewberry      Rubus caesius

Native. Common on chalky or clay soils, but generally avoiding more acid sands. Typically a plant of old, mature hedge bottoms and woodland edges and rides. Flowers May to October. A low, trailing species that roots readily at the nodes and has slender, very prickly stems with a strong, whitish bloom on them. Flowers white in small clusters. Leaves with three leaflets, green on both sides. Fruits small with few segments and covered in a whitish bloom. Rather vigorous plants with larger flowers that have broader petals are probably hybrids with either Rubus ulmifolius or R. armeniacus.

Common Dewberry Common Dewberry Common Dewberry Common Dewberry
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Cut-leaved Bramble      Rubus laciniatus

Introduced. Sometimes grown as a garden plant and occasionaly found in scrubby places. Flowers July to August. A distinctive species due to its deeply cut leaflets.

Cut-leaved Bramble Cut-leaved Bramble Cut-leaved Bramble Cut-leaved Bramble
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Cut-leaved Bramble Cut-leaved Bramble
Primocane
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Common Raspberry      Rubus idaeus

Native in damp copses, wet woodland and similar places, but also occurring as an escape from cultivation in other habitats, especially urban or suburban places. Flowers May to June, sometimes later. Stems orange-brown, forming extensive thickets. Leaves with three leaflets, strongly whitish beneath. Native plants have smaller fruits than cultivated forms.

Common Raspberry Common Raspberry
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Common Raspberry Common Raspberry Common Raspberry Common Raspberry
Cultivated fruits
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White-stemmed Bramble      Rubus cockburnianus

Introduced as a garden ornamental and just occasionally recorded as an escape from cultivation. Flowers May to August. Stems upright in tight clumps, reddish at first but soon strongly covered in a white bloom. Leaves with five to seven leaflets, pale, silvery-green. Flowers small with pink petals.

White-stemmed Bramble White-stemmed Bramble White-stemmed Bramble White-stemmed Bramble
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White-stemmed Bramble White-stemmed Bramble White-stemmed Bramble
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Older stems


Salmonberry      Rubus spectabilis

Introduced as a garden ornamental and just occasionally recorded as an escape from cultivation. Flowers May to June. Stems upright in tight clumps, but soon arching and leafy, orange-brown in colour. Leaves with three leaflets, bright green. Flowers single, relatively large with deep purple-pink petals.

Salmonberry Salmonberry Salmonberry Salmonberry
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Salmonberry Salmonberry Salmonberry
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Chinese Bramble      Rubus tricolor

Introduced as a garden ornamental and commonly used in amenity plantings, from where it occasionally spreads as an escape from cultivation. Flowers May to June. Stems densely covered in soft, reddish bristles, creeping along the ground and rooting freely at the nodes. Leaves simple but three-lobed. Flowers white, the petals shorter than the sepals and thus easily missed.

Chinese Bramble Chinese Bramble Chinese Bramble
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Chinese Bramble Chinese Bramble
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