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Temporal range: Eocene–Recent
Rubus bush with ripe and unripe blackberries
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Tribe: Rubeae
Genus: Rubus
Type species
Rubus fruticosus
  • Ametron Raf.
  • Ampomele Raf.
  • Batidaea (Dumort.) Greene
  • Bossekia Neck. ex Greene
  • Calyctenium Greene
  • Cardiobatus Greene
  • Chamaemorus Hill
  • Comarobatia Greene
  • Cumbata Raf.
  • Cylactis Raf.
  • Dalibarda Kalm
  • Dyctisperma Raf.
  • Idaeobatus (Focke) Börner
  • Manteia Raf.
  • Melanobatus Greene
  • Oligacis Raf.
  • Oreobatus Rydb.
  • Parmena Greene
  • Psychrobatia Greene
  • Rubacer Rydb.
  • Selnorition Raf.

Rubus is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, subfamily Rosoideae, with over 1,350 species, commonly known as brambles.[3][4][5]

Raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries are common, widely distributed members of the genus, and bristleberries are endemic to North America. Most of these plants have woody stems with prickles like roses; spines, bristles, and gland-tipped hairs are also common in the genus. The Rubus fruit, sometimes called a bramble fruit, is an aggregate of drupelets. The term "cane fruit" or "cane berry" applies to any Rubus species or hybrid which is commonly grown with supports such as wires or canes, including raspberries, blackberries, and hybrids such as loganberry, boysenberry, marionberry and tayberry.[6] The stems of such plants are also referred to as canes.


Bramble bushes typically grow as shrubs (though a few are herbaceous), with their stems being typically covered in sharp prickles.[7] They grow long, arching shoots that readily root upon contact with soil,[8] and form a soil rootstock from which new shoots grow in the spring.[9] The leaves are either evergreen or deciduous, and simple, lobed, or compound.[7] The shoots typically do not flower or set fruit until the second year of growth (i.e. they are biennial).[9] The rootstock is perennial.[10] Most species are hermaphrodites with male and female parts being present on the same flower.[7] Bramble fruits are aggregate fruits formed from smaller units called drupelets.[9]

Around 60-70% of species of Rubus are polyploid (having more than two pairs of each chromosome), with species ranging in ploidy from diploid (2x, with 14 chromosomes[11]) to tetradecaploid (14x).[12]


Modern classification[edit]

Rubus is very complex, particularly within the blackberry/dewberry subgenus (Rubus), with polyploidy, hybridization, and facultative apomixis apparently all frequently occurring, making species classification of the great variation in the subgenus one of the grand challenges of systematic botany.

Some treatments have recognized dozens of species each for what other, comparably qualified botanists have considered single, more variable species. On the other hand, species in the other Rubus subgenera (such as the raspberries) are generally distinct, or else involved in more routine one-or-a-few taxonomic debates, such as whether the European and American red raspberries are better treated as one species or two (in this case, the two-species view is followed here, with R. idaeus and R. strigosus both recognized; if these species are combined, then the older name R. idaeus has priority for the broader species).

The classification presented below recognizes 13 subgenera within Rubus, with the largest subgenus (Rubus) in turn divided into 12 sections. Representative examples are presented, but many more species are not mentioned here. A comprehensive 2019 study found subgenera Orobatus and Anoplobatus to be monophyletic, while all other subgenera to be paraphyletic or polyphyletic.[13]


The genus has a likely North American origin,[13] with fossils known from the Eocene-aged Florissant Formation of Colorado, around 34 million years old.[14] Rubus expanded into Eurasia, South America, and Oceania during the Miocene.[13] Fossil seeds from the early Miocene of Rubus have been found in the Czech part of the Zittau Basin.[15] Many fossil fruits of †Rubus laticostatus, †Rubus microspermus and †Rubus semirotundatus have been extracted from bore hole samples of the Middle Miocene fresh water deposits in Nowy Sacz Basin, West Carpathians, Poland.[16]

Molecular data have backed up classifications based on geography and chromosome number, but following morphological data, such as the structure of the leaves and stems, do not appear to produce a phylogenetic classification.[17]


Rubus caesius berry
R. arcticus flower
R. odoratus leaves and flower
R. saxatilis leaves and berries
R. ellipticus var. obcordatus leaves and flowers
R. ulmifolius thorns
R. chamaemorus fruit
R. caesius leaf
R. parviflorus flower
R. idaeus leaves
R. fruticosus flower
R. laciniatus berries
R. hawaiensis berry
R. spectabilis var. spectabilis flower
Commercially produced R. strigosus raspberries
R. rosifolius leaves and berry
R. phoenicolasius flowers
R. hirsutus flowers

Better-known species of Rubus include:

A more complete subdivision is as follows:

Hybrid berries[edit]

The term "hybrid berry" is often used collectively for those fruits in the genus Rubus which have been developed mainly in the U.S. and U.K. in the last 130 years. As Rubus species readily interbreed and are apomicts (able to set seed without fertilisation), the parentage of these plants is often highly complex, but is generally agreed to include cultivars of blackberries (R. ursinus, R. fruticosus) and raspberries (R. idaeus). The British National Collection of Rubus stands at over 200 species and, although not within the scope of the National Collection, also hold many cultivars.[18][19]

The hybrid berries include:-[20]

  • loganberry (California, U.S., 1883) R. × loganobaccus, a spontaneous hybrid between R. ursinus 'Aughinbaugh' and R. idaeus 'Red Antwerp'
  • boysenberry (U.S., 1920s) a hybrid between R. idaeus and R. × loganobaccus
  • nectarberry Suspected variant of boysenberry, a hybrid between R. idaeus and R. × loganobaccus
  • olallieberry (U.S., 1930s) a hybrid between the loganberry and youngberry, themselves both hybrid berries
  • veitchberry (Europe, 1930s) a hybrid between R. fruticosus and R. idaeus
  • skellyberry (Texas, U.S., 2000s), a hybrid between R. invisus and R. phoenicolasius
  • marionberry (1956) now thought to be a blackberry cultivar R. 'Marion'
  • silvanberry, R. 'Silvan', a hybrid between R. 'Marion' and the boysenberry
  • tayberry (Dundee, Scotland, 1979), another blackberry/raspberry hybrid
  • tummelberry, R. 'Tummel', from the same Scottish breeding programme as the tayberry
  • hildaberry (1980s), a tayberry/boysenberry hybrid discovered by an amateur grower
  • youngberry, a complex hybrid of raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries


The generic name means blackberry in Latin and was derived from the word ruber, meaning "red".[21]

The blackberries, as well as various other Rubus species with mounding or rambling growth habits, are often called brambles. However, this name is not used for those like the raspberry that grow as upright canes, or for trailing or prostrate species, such as most dewberries, or various low-growing boreal, arctic, or alpine species. The scientific study of brambles is known as "batology". "Bramble" comes from Old English bræmbel, a variant of bræmel.[5]

See also[edit]

  • Mulberry, an unrelated deciduous tree with similar looking fruit


  1. ^ "Rubus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  2. ^ "Rubus L.". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  3. ^ a b "Rubus L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2021. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  4. ^ Brouillet, Luc (2014). "Rosaceae (subfam. Rosoideae) tribe Rubeae". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 9. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  5. ^ a b "the definition of bramble". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  6. ^ Klein, Carol (2009). Grow your own fruit. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-84533-434-5.
  7. ^ a b c "Rubus - Trees and Shrubs Online". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  8. ^ "Brambles and other woody weeds /RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  9. ^ a b c "Bramble or blackberry |". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  10. ^ "Blackberry Planting, Spacing, and Trellising". Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  11. ^ "Rubus all species | GDR". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  12. ^ "Small genomes in tetraploid Rubus L. (Rosaceae) from New Zealand and southern South America". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  13. ^ a b c Carter, Katherine A.; Liston, Aaron; Bassil, Nahla V.; Alice, Lawrence A.; Bushakra, Jill M.; Sutherland, Brittany L.; Mockler, Todd C.; Bryant, Douglas W.; Hummer, Kim E. (2019-12-20). "Target Capture Sequencing Unravels Rubus Evolution". Frontiers in Plant Science. 10: 1615. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.01615. ISSN 1664-462X. PMC 6933950. PMID 31921259.
  14. ^ Leopold, Estella B.; Manchester, Steven R.; Meyer, Herbert W. (2008), "Phytogeography of the late Eocene Florissant flora reconsidered", Paleontology of the Upper Eocene Florissant Formation, Colorado, Geological Society of America, doi:10.1130/2008.2435(04), ISBN 978-0-8137-2435-5, retrieved 2021-09-23
  15. ^ Acta Palaeobotanica – 43(1): 9-49, January 2003 – Early Miocene carpological material from the Czech part of the Zittau Basin – Vasilis Teodoridis
  16. ^ Łańcucka-Środoniowa M.: Macroscopic plant remains from the freshwater Miocene of the Nowy Sącz Basin (West Carpathians, Poland) [Szczątki makroskopowe roślin z miocenu słodkowodnego Kotliny Sądeckiej (Karpaty Zachodnie, Polska)]. Acta Palaeobotanica 1979 20 (1): 3-117.
  17. ^ Lawrence A. Alice & Christopher S. Campbell (1999). "Phylogeny of Rubus (rosaceae) based on nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region sequences". American Journal of Botany. 86 (1). Botanical Society of America: 81–97. doi:10.2307/2656957. JSTOR 2656957. PMID 21680348.
  18. ^ National Collection of Rubus Species, Houghton, England, United Kingdom
  19. ^ "Plant Heritage – National Collections Scheme, UK Garden Plants". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  20. ^ Ardle, John (July 2013). "Hybris vigour". The Garden.
  21. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Vol. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2345. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.

External links[edit]