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 altissimus Fritsch
Rubus appendiculatus Tratt.
Rubus carpinifolius J.Presl & C.Presl
Rubus praecox A.Kern
Rubus reiteranus Knütter
Rubus sulcatus is a vigorous, deciduous shrub, producing each year a cluster of scrambling to arching, prickly, biennial stems from a woody rootstock[
]. 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 harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Europe - Norway to Britain and France, east to Ukraine, Italy and Romania
Woods, scrub, heaths, hedges etc[
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Species in this genus are generally easily grown in a good well-drained loamy soil in sun or semi-shade[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. A blackberry.
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[
A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit[
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[