Himalayan blackberry

Rubus discolor

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  • Arching stems, green to reddish purple, 1/4 to 3/4 in. thick, deeply angled (not round in cross-section).
  • Flowers white to pinkish, 1 in.
  • Spines are subtly curved, thick, most with wide bases, unlike native blackberry (Rubus ursinus) whose spines are straight and thin.
  • Leaf generally with 5 separated leaflets, sharply toothed edges, whitish on underside; native blackberry leaf always has 3 leaflets.

Identification key in: Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Growth and spread

  • Seeds are well dispersed by wildlife feeding on the ample fruit.
  • Arching stems that contact ground root and create daughter plants.
  • Root and stems pieces often resprout.

Habitat and local distribution

  • Disturbed moist areas, roadsides.
  • Needs lots of sun.
  • Native to Eurasia, very common throughout Bay Area.


  • Creates dense thickets, impenetrable due to sharp spines; crowds out native plants.
  • Favored by rats for food and shelter (Hickman 1993).

Prevention and Control


  • Plant natives or spread native seed in disturbed areas.

Manual or mechanical control

(Hoshovsky 2000)

  • Mechanical cutting of canes—not viable method alone since roots will resprout.
  • Hand digging and removal of roots—time-intensive but effective, especially for small infestations; however, all root fragments must be removed to prevent rapid resprouting.
  • Mowing or hand trimming—requires several trimmings to deplete food supply; optimal time is at beginning of flowering period; roots may resprout.
  • Estimated costs: vary depending on if volunteers conduct removal and on the plant density; equipment costs range may from $100 to over $1,000 (Gibbons et al. 1999). There may be additional fees for disposal of plant material.

Biological control

  • Biological control agents—none have been approved by USDA due to the potential risk to the commercial species (Hoshovsky 2000).
  • Grazing—goats have been used in California to control spread of species (Daar 1983).

Chemical control

  • Application of herbicides—glyphosate (as Roundup®) effective when leaves are young and actively growing, not when plants have been recently cut; apply evenly to leaf surface until wet, however dripping herbicide will harm other grasses and shrubs; triclopyr works better in lawn areas since it is not as harmful to most grasses (DNRP 2000).
  • Estimated costs: costs for materials and application by a contractor are approximately $250 per acre for glyphosate, depending on size of treatment area, scale of treatment, and herbicide dosage. It is recommended to contract a licensed professional for herbicide applications (Gibbons et al. 1999).

References and more information

Daar, S. 1983. Using goats for brush control. The IPM Practitioner. 5(4):4-6.

DNRP (Department of Natural Resources and Parks). 2000. Notes on Non-Native Blackberry Control. King County, Washington.

Gibbons, M.V., M.G. Rosenkranz, H.L. Gibbons, Jr., and M.D. Sytsma. 1999. Guide for Developing Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management in Oregon. Center for Lakes and Reservoirs, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Hoshovsky, M.C. 2000. Rubus discolor. In Invasive Plants of California Wildlands. Carla C. Bossard, John M. Randall, Marc C. Hoshovsky, Editors. University of California Press. Available at http://groups.ucanr.org/ceppc/Invasive_Plants_of_California's_Wildlands .

Element Stewardship Abstract for Rubus discolor, (Rubus procerus), himalayan blackberry . M. Hoshovsky. 1989. The Nature Conservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Team. Arlington, VA. Available at http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/rubudisc.html .

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