Rubus armeniacus

Himalayan blackberry


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Rosales. Family - Rosaceae (Rose family). Genus -Rubus L. Species - Rubus armeniacus Focke

Ecology: Blackberries are generally most prevalent in early seral communities.In the Northeast, blackberries are aggressive invaders in old field communities. In the West, the introduced Himalayan blackberry commonly occurs as an early seral species in relatively open disturbed areas, such as along roadways or on abandoned homesteads. This blackberry also grows in certain riparian areas of California where it can apparently establish and persist despite periodic inundation by fresh or brackish water. This periodic flooding can produce relatively long-lived early seral communities conducive to the growth and spread of blackberries.


The Himalayan blackberry is a robust, clambering or sprawling, evergreen shrub which grows up to 9.8 feet (3 m) in height. Leaves are pinnately to palmately compound, with three to five broad leaflets. Mature leaves are green and glaucous above but tomentose beneath. Stems of most blackberries are biennial. Sterile first-year stems, or primocanes, develop from buds at or below the ground surface and bear only leaves. During the second year, lateral branches, known as floricanes, develop in the axils of the primocanes, and produce both leaves and flowers.


Blackberries are typically observed in greatest abundance following fire or other types of disturbance. The Himalayan blackberry is well adapted to invade recently burned sites. Most blackberries sprout vigorously after fire. Various regenerative structures located at or below the ground surface enable this shrub to sprout, even when aboveground foliage is totally consumed by fire. Sprouting through rooting stem nodes is also likely if even portions of the aboveground stem remain undamaged.


The Himalayan blackberry is capable of extensive and vigorous vegetative regeneration. Sexual reproduction may also be important. Reproductive versatility is well represented in the Rubus genus, with sexual reproduction, parthenogenesis (development of the egg without fertilization), pseudogamy (a form of apomixis in which pollination is required), and parthenocarpy (production of fruit without fertilization), occurring widely. The following types of reproduction have been documented in blackberries: (1) sexual reproduction, (2) nonreduction at meiosis on the female, male, or both sides, (3) apomixis (seeds contain embryos of maternal, rather than sexual origin) with segregation, (4) apomixis without segregation, and (5) haploid parthenogenesis. These modes of asexual reproduction contribute significantly to the aggressive, vigorous spread of blackberries.

Vegetative regeneration- The mostly biennial stems of blackberries typically develop from perennial rootstocks or creeping stems. Most species within the Rubus genus are capable of sprouting vigorously from root or stem suckers, or rooting stem tips. Although not specifically documented for the Himalayan blackberry, a similar response is probable given the plant's morphology and the speed at which postdisturbance establishment and spread occurs. The Himalayan blackberry is known to spread extensively by trailing stems which root at the nodes. Rapid vegetative spread occurs even in the absence of disturbance.

Seed production- Immature fruit of the Himalayan blackberry is red and hard, but at maturity, fruit becomes shiny black, soft, and succulent. Individual drupelets form an aggregate up to 2 cm in length. Cleaned seed averages approximately 323,789/kg.

Species Distribution


USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

USFS Plant Database
Habeck, R. J. 1992. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2016. University of Washington.