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You are here >1Up Info > Wildlife, Animals, and Plants > Plant Species > Shrub > Species: Rubus discolor | Himalayan Blackberry
 

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BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Rubus discolor | Himalayan Blackberry
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : The Himalayan blackberry is a robust, clambering or sprawling, evergreen shrub which grows up to 9.8 feet (3 m) in height [25,31]. Leaves are pinnately to palmately compound, with three to five broad leaflets [25,31]. Mature leaves are green and glaucous above but tomentose beneath [31]. 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 [11]. During the second year, lateral branches, known as floricanes, develop in the axils of the primocanes, and produce both leaves and flowers [11]. Perfect flowers are borne in clusters of 3 to 20 [24,31]. Flowers are most commonly white, but rose or reddish flowers also occur [24,31]. Ripe fruit, commonly referred to as "berries," are soft, shiny black and composed of an aggregate of large succulent drupelets [3,25]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : The Himalayan blackberry is capable of extensive and vigorous vegetative regeneration [32]. 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 [6]. 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 [6]. 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 [11]. Most species within the Rubus genus are capable of sprouting vigorously from root or stem suckers, or rooting stem tips [11]. 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 [32]. Rapid vegetative spread occurs even in the absence of disturbance. Seed production: Most blackberries produce good seed crops nearly every year [3]. Immature fruit of the Himalayan blackberry is red and hard, but at maturity, fruit becomes shiny black, soft, and succulent [3]. Individual drupelets form an aggregate up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length [3,24]. Cleaned seed averages approximately 147,000 per pound (323,789/kg) [3]. Germination: Blackberry seeds have a hard impermeable coat and a dormant embryo [3]. Consequently, germination is often slow. Most blackberries require, as a minimum, warm stratification at 68 to 86 degrees F (20 to 30 degrees C) for 90 days, followed by cold stratification at 36 to 41 degrees F (2 to 5 degrees C) for an additional 90 days [3]. These conditions are frequently encountered naturally as seeds mature in summer and remain in the soil throughout the cold winter months. Laboratory tests indicate that exposure to sulfuric acid solutions or sodium hyperchlorite prior to cold stratification can enhance germination [3]. Seedbanking: Seeds of most blackberries can remain viable when stored in the soil for a period of at least several years [2]. However, the specific length of viability has not been documented for the Himalayan blackberry. Seed dispersal: Seeds of blackberries are readily dispersed by gravity and by many species of birds and mammals. The large succulent fruits are highly sought-after and, after they mature, rarely remain on the plant for long [3]. A hard seedcoat protects the embryo even when the seeds are ingested. Evidence suggests that the action of avian gizzards and exposure to mammalian digestive acids provide scarification which may actually enhance germination [1]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : The Himalayan blackberry typically grows in open weedy sites, such as along field margins, railroad right-of-ways, roadsides, and on abandoned farms [6,14,31]. It is also common in riparian woodlands and intertidal zones of central California [18,22,28,32]. Soils: Blackberries grow well on a variety of barren, infertile soil types [3]. These shrubs tolerate a wide range of soil pH and texture, but do require adequate soil moisture [33]. The Himalayan blackberry appears to be tolerant of periodic flooding by brackish or fresh water [32]. Elevation: Elevational ranges of the Himalayan blackberry have been documented as follows for two western states [19,31]: > 6,000 feet (1,829 m) in AZ from 2,788 to 5,000 feet (850-1,525 m) in UT SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Blackberries are generally most prevalent in early seral communities. In the Northeast, blackberries are aggressive invaders in old field communities [33]. 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 [31]. 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 [32]. This periodic flooding can produce relatively long-lived early seral communities conducive to the growth and spread of blackberries. The Himalayan blackberry is one of the few woody plants pioneering certain intertidal zones of the lower Sacramento River [32]. Little is known about the successional status of the Himalayan blackberry in its native Europe. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : The Himalayan blackberry generally flowers from June to August [3,13]. Fruit ripens in August and September [3], with seed dispersal in the fall.

Related categories for Species: Rubus discolor | Himalayan Blackberry

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