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Himalayan Blackberry

Himalayan Blackberry

Himalayan Blackberry

(Rubus armeniacus)

Priority: -  Control

Tags: Terrestrial

Identification and Reproduction

Identification:

  • Evergreen shrub that forms dense thickets and brambles. 
  • Canes grow to 3 m in height and up to 12 m in length. Stems are stiff and five-angled with large prickles. Canes have the ability to root at the tips and produce axillary daughter plants. 

  • Compound leaves are large and toothed, typically grouped in fives or threes. Underside of leaves will also bear prickles. 

  • Small clusters of flowers which are white to pink, stalked, and five-petaled.

Reproduction:

  • Himalayan blackberry can reproduce by seed, vegetatively from rooting at the stem, as well as sprouting from root buds.
  • Plants begin flowering in spring with fruit ripening in midsummer to late August. Each individual fruit will produce a number of seeds.
  • Once a thicket has developed seed production can reach up to 7,000-13,000 seeds per square meter, and seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years.
  • Fruiting stems generally die back at the end of the season, but non-fruiting stems may persist for several years before producing fruit.
  • Seeds are dispersed by birds and omnivorous mammals. Dispersal also occurs with root and stem fragments.

 

Habitat & Ecology

Found on disturbed sites, roadsides, pastures, stream-banks, and forest edges. They prefer rich, well-drained soils but they thrive on a variety of soil types. 

Impacts

Social: 

  • Brambles can prevent access for recreation, reduce aesthetics of a landscape and block visual sightlines.  
  • Sharp prickles can scratch and rip clothing as well as exposed skin. 
  • Fruit flies overwinter in Himalayan blackberry berries, which when they emerge in Spring, impact agricultural berry crops.

Ecological: 

  • Outcompetes native vegetation, prevents growth of native trees, and reduces biodiversity.
  • Dense thickets will also impede the movement of large animals. 
  • Increase flooding potential and sedimentation.  

Management

Manual/Mechanical Control:

  • Best time for treatment is between late summer and early fall, prior to plant dormancy. 
  • Mowing is effective, but BEWARE as this can also damage native species. If roots are not manually removed, mowing several times per year for 3-5 years is necessary to exhaust root reserves. If mowing is only conducted once per year it should be done as plants begin to flower.
  • Persistent tilling or cutting in combination with mowing can be effective. This method is most effective if followed up with spot applications of herbicide or removal of entire root system.
  • If plants are cut, all plant material must be collected in bags and disposed of at a landfill.

Click here for a manual/mechanical management prescription for Himalayan blackberry.

Chemical Control: 

  • A number of herbicides have proven effective on Himalayan blackberry: dicamba, glyphsate, triclpyr and metsulfuron methyl. 
  • Proceed with caution during applications and refrain from injuring or killing non-target species. 
  • Remember to full read and follow chemical labels. 

For further details on proper Himalayan blackberry chemical control please refer to the Metro Vancouver's BMP for Himalayan blackberry (pg. 11-16). 

Resources

Download the Invasive Species Council of BC's factsheet on Himalayan blackberry here.

Download the Metro Vancouver's Best Management Practices for Himalayan blackberry here.

Header photo (Meloe).