Bush lawyer (plant)

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Bush lawyer plant
Rubus cissoides 11.JPG
Rubus cissoides
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Rubus
Subgenus: Rubus subg. Micranthobatus

Bush lawyer is a common name of a group of climbing blackberry plants (subgenus Micranthobatus of the genus Rubus) that are found in New Zealand, many of them rampant forest vines. The Māori language name of the plant is tātarāmoa.

Tātaramoa or bush lawyer has hooked thorns that snag clothing and rip or prick the skin.[1]

The colloquial English name is often said to have been given because once this thorny plant becomes attached to you it will not let you go until it has drawn blood:[2]

Some overseas trampers might not understand or appreciate the common name of Rubus cissoides, but North Americans certainly do. In New Zealand the thorny vine is best known as bush lawyer. Found throughout the country up to 1000m, the plant has hand-shaped leaves with three to five toothed 'fingers', white flowers and a yellowish-red fruit. The berry is shaped like a small blackberry and was once used by early Europeans to make jams and jellies. But the plant's most noticeable feature is its thorns.

The backward-pointing prickles on the stems help the vine climb to the open canopy of a forest but also snare unwary trampers who stray from the track. You'll immediately know bush lawyer when you encounter it as the thorns will painfully scrape across your bare thighs or arms, quickly drawing blood. And, like any good American lawyer, once it gets a hold of you, it doesn't let go easily.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of New Zealand entry
  2. ^ DuFresne, Jim (November 2006). Tramping in New Zealand (PDF) (6th ed.). Lonely Planet walking guide. p. 74. ISBN 1740597885.

External links[edit]