There has been considerable confusion over the identity of the cultivated blackberry ’Himalaya Giant’. In the past it has been assigned to both Rubus procerus P.J.Müll. ex Boulay, and to Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees. Most, though not all, modern treatments now assign ‘Himalaya Giant’ to Rubus armeniacus Focke, with Rubus discolor and Rubus procerus both having been used erroneously to apply to ‘Himalaya Giant’. The true Rubus procerus P.J.Müll. ex Boulay has been reduced to synonymy of Rubus praecox Bertol., whilst Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees has been reduced to synonymy of Rubus ulmifolius Schott[
The genus Rubus, (especially the blackberries, which are often loosely referred to as Rubus fruticosus agg.) presents some of the most difficult taxonomic problems. This is partly due to the frequency of polyploidy; also to the frequent occurrence of hybridization; and also due to apomixis, where minor differences between plants are preserved because seedlings are genetically identical to their parent. As a result, differences of opinion on the number of species to be recognized from a given region can vary tremendously (for example, a treatment by M. L. Fernald[
] in 1950 recognized 205 species for the northern half of the eastern United States plus parts of southeastern Canada, whilst H. A. Gleason and A. Cronquist in 1991 recognized only 25)[
]. Where possible, a relatively conservative approach is taken here[
Rubus × tridentinus Evers
Rubus abruptus Lindl.
Rubus aetneus Tornab.
Rubus albescens Boulay & Gillot
Rubus amoenus hispanicus (Willk.) Willk.
Rubus amoenus microphyllus Lange
Rubus appenninus Evers
Rubus bellidiflorus hort. ex K.Koch
Rubus bellidiflorus hort. ex Petz. & G.Kirchn.
Rubus bujedanus Sennen & T.S.Elias
Rubus castellanus Sennen & T.S.Elias
Rubus chlorocarpus Bor. in Genev.
Rubus cocullotinus Evers
Rubus crispulus Gand.
Rubus discolor Syme
Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees
Rubus edouardii Sennen
Rubus fruticosus discolor (Weihe & Nees) Syme
Rubus fruticosus panormitanus (Tineo) Fiori
Rubus fruticosus ulmifolius (Schott) Fiori
Rubus gerundensis Sennen
Rubus hispanicus Willk.
Rubus inermis A.Beek
Rubus inermis Pourr.
Rubus inermis Willd.
Rubus karstianus Borb s
Rubus legionensis Gand.
Rubus lejeunei Weihe ex Lej.
Rubus longipetiolatus Sennen
Rubus minutiflorus Lange
Rubus oculus-junonis Gand.
Rubus panormitanus Tineo
Rubus pilosus discolor (Weihe & Nees) Dumort.
Rubus pubescens discolor (Weihe & Nees) Karsch
Rubus rusticanus Mercier
Rubus segobricensis Pau
Rubus siculus C.Presl
Rubus sinusifolius Sennen
Rubus tomentellus appenninus Evers ex Hruby
Rubus valentinus Pau
Rubus villicaulis discolor (Weihe & Nees) Čelak.
Rubus vulgaris discolor (Weihe & Nees) Bluff & Fingerh.
Common Name: Elm-Leaved Bramble
Rubus ulmifolius is a semi-evergreen shrub producing each year a cluster of unarmed or armed, erect, then arching, biennial stems from a woody rootstock; the stems can be 300 - 500cm long[
]. The stems only produce leaves in their first year, producing flower and fruit-bearing branches in their second yea of growth and then dying after fruiting.
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It has been cultivated as a fruit crop in western Europe since the late 19th century and is now cultivated in many other temperate regions of the world - a form free of spines has been developed. The plant is sometimes also grown as an ornamental, especially the double-flowered form 'Bellidiflorus'[
Rubus ulmifolius is a variable species that has been cultivated as a fruit crop and an ornamental. It spreads both by bird-sown seeds and vegetatively - the stems tips rooting where they touch the ground and the plant forming dense, impenetrable thickets. It has escaped from cultivation and been declared a weed in various areas, including the western USA, Australia and some Pacific Islands.
Europe, including Britain, from the Netherlands south and east to N. Africa, Italy and Macaronesia.
Very common in many habitats, succeeding on chalk and clay and preferring open sunny habitats[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Rubus ulmifolius is hardy to about -18°c[
Easily grown in a good well-drained loamy soil[
]. Succeeds on chalk or clay soils, preferring open habitats in the wild[
]. Tolerates poor soils so long as they are not dry[
]. Succeeds in sun or semi-shade[
] and also in deep shade though growth is more lax in such a position[
This species reproduces sexually and not apomictically like many other brambles. Individual plants are self-sterile[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Rubus ulmifolius can be distinguished, especially from the closely related Rubus bifrons and Rubus vestitus, by its strongly pruinose stems, finely serrate leaflets, and lack of glands throughout. Unlike Rubus ulmifolius, strongly pruinose native Rubus species lack relatively large and showy pink petals. Some new stems developing from tip-rooting, and early leaves on such stems (especially in shade), are not whitened abaxially and are tomentose. Such unusual stems develop typical leaves and surfaces in parts formed later[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Aromatic, but with small dryish drupelets[
]. The ovoid or subglobose fruits are around 8 - 10mm in diameter[
Most, if not all, thicket-forming species of Rubus have good erosion control value. They usually grow satisfactorily on barren and infertile soils and invade and occupy eroded areas. They also establish quickly on burns, old fields, and logged areas. Forming extensive and nearly impenetrable thickets, they can provide excellent cover for wildlife as well as nesting sites for small birds. They are often natural pioneer species, paving the way for woodlands to develop, but they should only really be used within their native range in order to avoid any risks of them invading other habitats[
The recessive gene for spinelessnes of var. anoplothyrsus is the main genetic source used by plant breeders to produce spineless blackberries[
A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit[
The root yields an orange dye when mixed with salt[
Seed - requires stratification and is best sown in early autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires one month stratification at about 3°c and is best sown as early as possible in the year. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame[
Tip layering in July. Plant out in autumn.
Division in early spring or just before leaf-fall in the autumn[