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 albescens Roxb.
Rubus boudieri H.Lév.
Rubus distans D.Don
Rubus foliolosus D.Don
Rubus godongensis Y.Gu & W.L.Li
Rubus horsfieldii Miq.
Rubus incanus Sasaki ex Y.C.Liu & Yang
Rubus lasiocarpus Sm.
Rubus longistylus H.Lév.
Rubus mairei H.Lév.
Rubus micranthus D.Don
Rubus mysorensis F.Heyne
Rubus pinnatus D.Don
Rubus pyi H.Lév.
Rubus tongchouanensis H.Lév.
Common Name: Ceylon Raspberry
Rubus niveus is a deciduous shrub producing a cluster of erect to arching, often scrambling, prickly biennial stems from 100 - 300cm long. The stems only produce leaves, and do not flower, in their first year of growth, forming flowering branches in their second year and then dying after fruiting, A very spiny plant, it often scrambles into other plants, supporting itself by means of its prickly stems.
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for local use as a food, and is also used as a medicine. It is occasionally cultivated for this fruit in Asia, and has been introduced as a fruit crop to Florida and Puerto Rico[
Asia - Afghanistan, central and southern China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines
Forests and forest clearings at elevations from 1,700 - 2,300 metres in Kashmir[
]. Thickets on slopes, sparse forests, montane valleys, streamsides and flood plains at elevations of 500 - 2,800 metres in China[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Rubus niveus grows in subtropical or cool tropical climates with a well-distributed medium to high rainfall[
]. In general this species is not very tolerant of frost[
], though one report says that selected provenances can succeed outdoors in the milder regions of the temperate zone[
Easily grown in a good well-drained loamy soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Plants are intolerant of drought[
]. Another report says that the plants are highly tolerant of dryness[
Rubus niveus is a highly invasive plant that was introduced around the world through the horticultural trade for its production of sweet tasting fruit and as an ornamental due to the striking red-purple colour of its stems. Nevertheless, cultivated crops were abandoned due to the formation of dense, spiny thickets and many plants escaped from cultivation aided by the distribution of seed by birds. Outside of cultivation, it can outcompete native vegetation, decrease biodiversity and threaten rare endemic species. Rubus niveus has been described as the most invasive weed species on the Galapagos Archipelago and has been declared a noxious weed in the state of Hawaii[
Seedling plants can commence bearing fruit when about 1 - 2 years old[
There is at least one named variety. 'Mysore' is a form suitable for sub-tropical areas, it has mild but nice flavoured fruit with small seeds[
In warm climates, the plant can flower and produce fruit all year round[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, preserves etc[
]. The small fruit is up to 12mm in diameter[
], it is juicy with a sweet rich black-raspberry flavour[
]. Of excellent desert quality, the fruit is very soft and needs to be consumed within 24 hours of being picked otherwise it will start to decay[
]. Average annual yields from a bush covering 2.5m² in the Himalayas are 657g[
]. The fruit contains about 7.8% sugars, 0.13% protein, 0.77% ash[
The leaves are used as a tonic for older people[
The fruits and the roots are used in the treatment of dysentery[
The plant has been used to create stock-proof hedges[
The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries; whilst also providing a range of medicinal and other uses[
The plant is used in raspberry breeding programmes because of its vitality and resistance to leaf spot disease[
A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit[
Seed - germinates best if given a period of cold stratification prior to sowing in containers. Stored seed requires one month stratification at about 3°c and is best sown as early as possible in the growing season. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on until large enough to plant out.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a frame[
Tip layering towards the end of the growing season
Division just before the plant comes into new growth or as it enters dormancy[