Plant DetailShow Menu

Blackberry Rubus pensilvanicus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ROO-bus pen-sil-VAN-eh-kus
Description

The Genus Rubus includes blackberry, dewberry, and raspberry and most members of the Genus share the traits of prickly (sometimes erroneously called thorny) or bristly stems and compound leaves. Also, flowers and fruit appear on last season’s canes (branches), seldom on new shoots, which means one must be cautious when pruning and not remove the canes that will yield next year's berries. There are differences, however, among species; for example, some are erect or arching shrubs up to 8 feet high and others trail on the ground like vines. Some, such as dewberries, produce fruits in the spring while blackberries and raspberries fruit during the summer. In general, Genus Rubus contains some of the most important plants for wildlife in the southeast.

Pennsylvania blackberry is a native perennial shrub in the Rose family. This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer and provides excellent cover year-round for wildlife. Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals, foxes, raccoons, and black bears. During the winter, birds and small mammals eat the seeds left from rotted fruit. White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the leaves. Pennsylvania blackberry is often found in woodland openings and edges, savannas, thickets, weedy meadows, and fence rows.

Pennsylvania blackberry can grow to ten feet tall, forming arching woody canes. It is found naturally along roadsides, thickets, and in woodlands. Second-year canes die down after bearing fruit, but they often start new canes vegetatively when their tips touch the ground. The root system is woody and branching. Loose colonies of plants are often formed from vegetative propagation of the canes. Stout prickles occur along the sides of the canes; these prickles are usually curved, rather than straight. The plant prefers full or partial sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and soil containing loam, clay-loam, or some rocky material. The size of the fruit depends on the amount of precipitation during the first half of summer. These plants are colonial and spread rapidly.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#perennial#shrub#wildlife plant#nectar plant#cover plant#specialized bees#deer resistant#turtles#native garden#edible fruits#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#prickly stems#mammals#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-spring#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#birds#food source soft mast fuit#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#perennial#shrub#wildlife plant#nectar plant#cover plant#specialized bees#deer resistant#turtles#native garden#edible fruits#NC Native Pollinator Plant#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#prickly stems#mammals#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-spring#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#birds#food source soft mast fuit#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rubus
    Species:
    pensilvanicus
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Sweet and juicy fruit often used for jams and jellies.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Canada, Central and Eastern United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides excellent cover year round. Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms for nectar. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals, foxes, raccoons, and black bears. During the winter, birds and small mammals eat the seeds left from rotted fruit. White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the leaves.
    Edibility:
    The fruits are large aggregates of 10-100 black drupelets, somewhat sweet.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Prickles
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Flowers are replaced by juicy fruits that are globoid-ovoid in shape and up to ¾" long. The fruits have a pleasant sweet-tart flavor, sometimes with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Each drupelet within a fruit contains a single seed. The size of the fruit is strongly influenced by the amount of precipitation during the first half of summer. Fruits are available May-July.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Second-year canes bear short corymbs of flowers spanning about 2-4" across. Each flower is about 1" across. The petals are oblanceolate in shape and rather wrinkled in appearance; they are much longer than the slightly pubescent sepals. At the base of the pedicel of each flower, there is either a stipule-like or leafy bract of varying size; the flowers are often partially hidden by these bracts. The blooming period of this blackberry lasts about 3 weeks. Flowers bloom April-June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    First-year canes produce leaves of 5 leaflets, while second-year canes produce leaves of 3 leaflets. At the base of each terminal leaflet, there is a conspicuous basal stalklet (petiolule) about ½" long, while the lateral leaflets are sessile, or nearly so. Terminal leaflets are no more than twice as long as they are across.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Black
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Young canes are light green, stout, and rather angular, but they later become red, reddish brown, or black. Stout prickles occur along the sides of the canes; these prickles are usually curved, rather than straight.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns