Rubus spectabilis



The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Rosidae. Order - Rosales. Family - Rosaceae (rose). Genus - Rubus L. Species - Rubus spectabilis Pursh

Ecology: Salmonberry is a pioneer or early seral species noted for its ability to spread aggressively on disturbed sites. Seedlings generally appear in abundance after fire, timber harvest, or other types of disturbance. Rhizomes enable salmonberry to spread vigorously and form dense patches where it was prevalent in predisturbance communities. Salmonberry communities commonly develop early in succession in Sitka spruce and Pacific silver fir zones of Oregon and Washington, in Sitka spruce-western hemlock forests of Alaska, and in many Douglas-fir forests of the Pacific Northwest. Salmonberry has been described as shade tolerant and relatively intolerant of shade. In some locations this shrub persists in climax forest communities; elsewhere it is gradually eliminated as the canopy closes. Although most common in early seral stages, salmonberry has also been reported in early immature, second growth, mature, and old growth forests in British Columbia. It can reportedly persist almost indefinitely in the understory of alder or mixed hardwood-conifer stands. Salmonberry is more likely to be eliminated in coniferous forests where light levels are lower.

In the WFDP: Salmonberry is rare in the WFDP, existing in only one small patch (5-6 square meters) with two stems above 1 cm at DBH that are tagged.


Shrubs, 1040 dm, usually armed. Stems erect to arching, glabrate or sparsely to densely hairy, eglandular or sparsely short-stipitate-glandular, rarely densely long-stipitate-glandular, not pruinose; bark usually papery with age, peeling (especially toward base); prickles absent or sparse to dense, erect, slender, 15 mm, broad- to narrow-based. Leaves deciduous, ternate; stipules filiform to linear, 310 mm; terminal leaflets ovate, 415 3.515 cm, base truncate, rounded to shallowly cordate, shallowly, sharply lobed, margins coarsely serrate to doubly serrate, apex acute to acuminate, abaxial surfaces unarmed or with erect prickles on midvein, moderately to densely hairy, eglandular, rarely stipitate-glandular along midvein. Inflorescences terminal and axillary, 12-flowered. Pedicels unarmed or prickles sparse, erect, moderately to densely hairy, eglandular, rarely short-stipitate-glandular. Flowers bisexual; petals pink to magenta, broadly to narrowly obovate, 1030 mm; filaments laminar; ovaries glabrous. Fruits yellow, orange, or red, globose to ovoid, 12 cm; drupelets 2080, strongly coherent, separating from torus.


Fire effects: Salmonberry is well adapted to survive fire through sprouting or seedling establishment. It is capable of vigorous sprouting through buds present on the stump, stem base or root crown, and rhizomes buried beneath the soil surface. The tips of downward arching aerial canes are also capable of rooting and forming new plants where portions of the aboveground stem remain undamaged by fire. Salmonberry produces an abundance of seed annually, which accumulates in the soil or duff. Seed is noted for long-viability and germinates in large numbers after fire. Mineral soil serves as a favorable seedbed enhancing germination and establishment. Salmonberry commonly invades recently burned sites throughout much of the Pacific Northwest.


Seed production and dispersal: Species within the genus Rubus grow from perennial root stocks or creeping aboveground stems during their first year of development and produce sterile vegetative shoots known as primocanes. Lateral branches, or floricanes, develop in the axils of the primocanes during the second year and produce both leaves and flowers. The showy flowers of salmonberry are pollinated by insects and hummingbirds. Salmonberry generally produces large numbers of seed annually. Reproductive versatility is common in the Rubus genus; 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) occur widely.

Vegetative Reproduction: The mostly biennial stems typically develop from perennial root stocks or aboveground creeping stems. Salmonberry is known for its prolific sprouting ability. It can sprout vigorously from the stump, root crown, stem base or root stock, and from a dense network of rhizomes. Regeneration through rooting aerial stem tips has also been reported. Vegetative regeneration is largely responsible for the clonal spread of this species and is particularly important in perpetuating colonies in shaded understory habitats. Once aboveground foliage has been damaged or removed, buds present on the stump exhibit the greatest immediate potential for regrowth. These sprouts soon establish apical dominance and inhibit other less active buds located at or below the ground surface. The number of these buds which are capable of sprouting is largely determined by the height of the remaining stump. The second portion of the salmonberry bud bank, which is activated after removal of the stump, is the stem base or root crown. These buds, located at or below the soil surface, are afforded greater protection than those on the stump. Buds located on the stem base or root crown can ordinarily be eliminated only through extreme soil disturbance Rhizomes represent the most complex and largest segment of the salmonberry bud bank. These structures are capable of relatively rapid production of aerial stems and are responsible for local increases in stem density. Rhizome growth and development is related to basal area of the stand, age of the parent plant, and site characteristics. Greater basal areas are generally correlated with more extensive rhizome growth.

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.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

The Jepson Herbarium
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. $131.95, hardcover; 1600 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0520253124.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2016 [Online]. University of Washington.
Photo credit: Ben Legler 2004
Photo credit: Tim Hagan 2003
Photo credit: Bud Kovalchik