Rubus rosifolius (Rose-leaf Bramble)

Scientific name

Rubus rosifolius Sm. Ex Baker

Synonyms

Rubus roseasifolius Sm.; Rubus commersonnii Poir.; Rubus coronarius; Rubus eustephanos var. coronarius; Rubus rosaefolius Smith; Rubus rosifolius Smith var. coronarius Sims; Rubus rosifolius var. commersonii; Rubus rosifolius var. rosifolius

Common names

Thimbleberry

Family

Rosaceae

Origin

The Himalayas, East Asia and eastern Australia.

Naturalised distribution (global)

Locations within which Rubus rosifolius is naturalised include tropical Asia, south-eastern USA, northern Australia, Swaziland and some oceanic islands with warm climates.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Rubus rosifolius is considered to be naturalised in parts of Kenya and invasive in Tanzania (Tropical Biology Association 2010).  (Global Invasive Species Database). In Kenya, R. rosifolius has been recorded in highlands Aberdares, Machakos and Nairobi. The editors are not aware of records of the presence of R. rosifolius in Uganda, though this does not necessarily mean that it is absent from this country.

Habitat

This is garden ornamental that is spreading along stream banks at 1400-1700 m altitude in Aberdares, Machakos and Nairobi. This species invades savanna, coastal bush, disturbed grass land, forest margins, roadsides and riverbanks. Rubus rosifolius is moderately shade and drought intolerant and prefers moist fertile soil and colonises disturbed sites and forest gaps.

Description

Rubus rosifolius is a prickly herb, scrambler or sub shrub.

Leaves are once compound and the leaflets are ovate (egg-shaped with broad end at base)-elliptic, narrowed to a point.

Leaves have prickles as well as toothed margins, with glandular-hairs on both sides of leaflets.

The stems are hairy with a few prickles.

R. rosifolius bears white flowers solitary or in a panicle, with 5 petals and sepals 7-10 mm long and shorter than the flower petals.

Flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects, in particular honey bees (Apis mellifera L.).

R. rosifolius fruits profusely. The fruit is a scarlet-red drupe, about 10-20 mm long and rather juicy and it easily separates from the receptacle. Plants in habitats which are moist all year round produce fruit all year.

Reproduction and dispersal

Rubus rosifolius reproduces by seed which is eaten by birds, people and other mammals. In addition, R. rosifolius spreads vegetatively via suckers and stems root whenever they come into contact with moist soil. The seeds of R. rosifolius are said to remain viable in the soil for many years.

Similar species

Other Rubus species but Rubus rosifolius is more similar to:

  • Rubus friesiorum, which is a short hairy scrambler, with trifoliate leaves and produces pinkish flowers. This species is rare, occurring at edges of montane forest at 3000-3400 m altitude.
  • Rubus steudneri, which is hairy scrambler that commonly occurs in mountain undergrowth, montane forest clearings and edges at 2000-3480 m altitude.

Economic and other uses

Rubus rosifolius fruits are edible and the plant has medicinal properties.

Environmental and other impacts

Rubus rosifolius can invade the understory of rainforests, forming dense thickets when adequate sunlight is available, overcrowding and outcompeting native plants. It is also able to climb using hooks on its stems and prickles on the leaves.

R. rosifolius has been included in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD 2010).

Management

The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

Manual removal is possible for small infestations but care must be taken to remove the entire plant or regeneration from the roots is likely. Suitable herbicides including  Glyphosate (Roundup) can be sprayed onto larger infestation. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert. Goat grazing can be used as a management tool.

The fungus Gymnoconia nitens can be used to control Rubus rosifolius but it can affect native Rubus species as well.

Legislation

Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

References

Agnew, A. D. Q and Agnew, S. (1994). Upland Kenya Wild Flowers. A flora of the Ferns and Herbaceous Flowering Plants of Upland Kenya. 2nd Ed. EANHS, Nairobi-Kenya.

GISD (2010). Global Invasive Species Database online data sheet. Rubus rosifolius. www.issg.org/database. Accessed March 2011.

Gardner, D.E., Hodges, C.S., Killgore, E. and Anderson, R.C. (1997).  An Evaluation of the Rust Fungus Gymnoconia nitens as a Potential Biological Control Agent for Alien Rubus Species in Hawaii. Biological Control 10, 151-158.

Henderson, L. (2001).  Alien weeds and invasive plants. A complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa.  Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 12, 300pp. PPR, ARC South Africa.

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). Rubus rosifolius Sm., Rosaceae: plant threats to Pacific ecosystems. www.hear.org/pier/species/rubus_rosifolius.htm. Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Hawaii, USA. Accessed March 2011.

Tropical Biology Association (2010). Usambara Invasive Plants - Amani Nature Reserve - www.tropical-biology.org/research/dip/species.htm.

USDA Forest Service Rubus rosifolius online data sheet. www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/pdf/shrubs/Rubus%20rosifolius.pdf. Accessed April 2010.

Editors

Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.

Acknowledgments

This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).

Contact

BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: eafrinet@africaonline.co.ke