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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Rubus fruticosus


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Rubus fruticosus - blackberryVery prickly, scrambling, woody perennial shrub up to 2 m or more tall, bearing large white or pink flowers followed by black berries. Extremely variable in leaf shape and plant form.

  • Flowers White to pink, 2-3 cm in diameter, with five petals and numerous stamens, in many-flowered clusters. Flowers Nov-Apr.
  • Fruit Aggregated berries 10-15 mm long, red at first, turning black when ripe, made up of twenty to fifty two-seeded drupelets. Seeds widely spread by birds.
  • Leaves Compound, three to five, oval, toothed leaflets arranged palmately. Stalks and mid-ribs prickly.
  • Stems Up to 8 m long, arching, entangling, woody, armed with savage backward pointing thorns. Stems rooting at tips to form new plants. New stems grow from the base each year.
  • Roots Stout, branched, creeping underground roots.


Reverting land, scrub, road-sides, hedgerows, swamps and waste places.


Common to locally abundant throughout NZ including Stewart and Chatham Islands. Originally from temperate northern hemisphere regions.


Very common nuisance weed. Can become a major weed of pastures in some areas, like Wairoa. A preferred food for goats, which control it effectively, but need to be confined with it. Otherwise, control can be difficult. Seedlings are very slow growing, and can be controlled by moderate grazing pressure. The species is extremely variable and has sometimes been divided into many species and very many varieties. One of the more distinctive, sometimes distinguished as a separate species, is cut-leaved blackberry (Rubus laciniatus). All blackberries are subject to Pest Plant Management Strategies in several regions of NZ. Details are available from individual regional councils or unitary authorities.

Related species

Other species of Rubus include the native bush lawyers (Rubus australis, Rubus cissoides and Rubus schmidelioides), with long, semi-woody stems, sprawling or climbing in native forest and bush margins. They have backward-pointing spines that often hinder the progress of humans or animals through the bush.

Derivation of botanical name

Rubus (Lat.) = bramble; fruticosus (Lat.) = bushy.

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Last updated: July 13, 2014