Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Rubus spp.

Common name(s): blackberry, bramble

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


-Rosaceae family

– two types of canes: primocanes (1st yr, vegetative) and floricanes (2nd yr, bears flowers)

Leaves are

  • palmate
  • 5-7 leaflets
  • floricane leaves can have 3 leaflets

– large prickles similar to rose thorns, sometimes hairy branches 4″-12″ long.

– can be difficult to identify species without flowers/fruit, both because Rubus species hybrids are common and because plants in wild blueberry fields are mowed/burned regularly

– may be confused with other Rubus such as raspberries and black raspberries, but fruit ripens later and center portion (rasp) comes off with the fruit (not hollow as in raspberries)

– generally flowers late May to late July in ME


-full sun

-well drained soil

Wildlife Benefits:

-attracts nectar feeding butterflies

-birds and small mammals eat the fruit

-birds nest in the brambles and mammals use it as protection

Natural History:

-Bramble derived from “brymbyl” meaning prickly



Kagan , Carol. “Brambles (Rubus Spp.) — 2020 Herb of the Year.” Penn State Extension, 19 Jan. 2021,

Hansen, R.W., S.B. Hansen and E.A. Osgood. 1991. Reproductive phenologies of selected flowering plants in eastern Maine forests. ME Agric. Exp. Station Tech. Bull. 143. 17 pp.