Taxonomic name: Rubus niveus Thunb.
Synonyms: Rubus pedunculosus D. Don, Rubus albescens Roxb., Rubus bonatii H. Lév., Rubus boudieri H. Lév., Rubus distans D. Don, Rubus foliolosus D. Don, Rubus godongensis Y. Gu & W.L. Li, Rubus horsfieldii Miq., Rubus incanus Sasaki ex Y.C. Liu & Yang, Rubus lasiocarpus Sm., Rubus lasiocarpus var. ectenothyrsus Cardot, Rubus lasiocarpus var. micranthus (D. Don) Hook. f., Rubus longistylus H. Lév., Rubus mairei H. Lév., Rubus micranthus D. Don, Rubus mysorensis F. Heyne., Rubus niveus var. micranthus (D. Don) H. Hara, Rubus pinnatus D. Don, Rubus pyi H. Lév., Rubus tongchouanensis H. Lév.
Common names: Ceylon raspberry (English), frambuesa (Spanish), hill raspberry (English), hong pao ci teng (Chinese), Java bramble, kala hinsalu (Hindi-India), khiradi (Pahari-Chhota Bhangal of Western Himalaya), kolalinda (Tamil-India), komuli (Kannada-India), Mahabaleshwar raspberry (English-India), mbolinmomoniyl (Wola-Papua New Guinea), mora (Spanish), Mysore raspberry (English), Mysorehimbeere (German), pilai (Filipino-Philippines), pinit (Filipino-Philippines), snowpeaks raspberry
Organism type: shrub
Rubus niveus is a shrub native to Asia that may form dense, impenetrable, thorny thickets that can displace native species. It produces sweet, palatable fruit enjoyed by birds, rodents, reptiles and humans and has been cultivated in many regions throughout the world for this reason. It is also used as a living fence. Mechanical management of the species is difficult due to its growth form and persistent seedbank, but chemical methods have been developed and biological means of management are being explored.
Rubus niveus is a large perennial shrub growing up to 4.5 metres in height that may form dense thickets of intertwining stems. The flexible, arching stems may be downy when young but become glabrous and glaucous at maturity. They are covered with sharp, hooked thorns 3-7mm long. The leaves are pinnately compound into 5-9 serrated, elliptic-ovate leaflets that are 2.5-6cm long and 2-5cm wide. The leaves are dark green and glaucous above and white tomentose below. The petiolules are approximately 0.1cm long and are covered with small prickles, as are the leaf rachises. The inflorescences are short, axillary or terminal panicles of 24 or more flowers, which are pink to rose purple. The 5-petaled flowers are approximately 1.25cm broad with petals of 4-5mm in length. The fruit of R. niveus is a subglobose aggregate of drupelets and is 1-2cm in diameter with a purple-black colour and fine bloom at maturity. It is juicy and sweet with small seeds, and may be produced throughout the year (Morton, 1987; PIER, 1999).
agricultural areas, natural forests, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands
Rubus niveus is found in a wide variety of habitats, including woodlands, forest edges, riparian habitats, and disturbed sites (PIER, 1999). In the Garhwal Himalaya it is found on north aspects in consociations of Betula utilis and Quercus semecarpifolia, as well as consociations of Quercus dilatata and silver fir (Osmaston, 1922). It has a large climatic range, and is found at altitudes from 450 to 3000 metres in its native Asia (Morton, 1987). The species prefers well-drained soil, and may grow in either full or partial sun conditions. It can tolerate light freezes, but prolonged freezing temperatures will likely kill it (Morton, 1987). Thus, while in tropical areas the species can grow as a perennial, in areas with severe winters, the species behaves as a annual, coming back every spring for the seed bank or perhaps from root stock. The species is not tolorant of drought (Rachel Atkinson pers.comm May 2011)
Rubus niveus may be invasive and overrun native species. It forms dense, impenetrable, thorny thickets which may take over forest, shrubland, and areas of open vegetation. It is said to be "one of the worst weeds threatening the Galapagos National Park" (Rentería et al. 2006). It also affects agricultural land, causing serious economic problems for farmers.
The fruits of Rubus niveus are consumed by birds, rodents, and humans (PIER, 1999) and tortoises. The plant is cultivated throughout the world for its heavy production of sweet fruit (Morton, 1987; Plants For a Future, 2004), which is composed of approximately 7.8% sugar, 0.13% protein, and 0.77% ash (Plants For a Future, 2004). Humans eat the fruits fresh and make them into jams, wine, and candies (PCARRD, 1996). Additionally, the fruit may be used to create a purple to dull blue dye (Plants For a Future, 2004).
Fresh root tips of the species are used to cure excessive bleeding during menses in Chhota Bhangal of Western Himalaya (Uniyal et al., 2006).
Before known to be a problem, the species was planted to make living fences in the agricultural zones in Galapagos.
Two distinct forms are found in Hawai'i, a white stemmed and red stemmed morph which is present in Maui. This morph has light pink petals and dark red to purple stems (Starr et al. 2003).
R. niveus may be preyed upon by the 2-spotted mite Tetranychus bimaculatus and the green stink bug Nezara viridula, as well as be infected with Anthracnose, Elsinoe veneta, at the end of the fruiting season (Morton, 1987). It is also susceptible to the Aphis rubicola- trasmitted raspberry leaf curl luteovirus, which is identified by leaf curling and stunting and small, crumbly fruits (Brunt et al. 1996).
Native range: Rubus niveus is native to India, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan to southeastern Asia (China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, Thailand), Indonesia, and the Phillipines (USDA, ARS, 2007; PIER, 1999).
Known introduced range: R. niveus is found in south-eastern Africa, southern North America through Northern South America and Galapagos, and areas of Australasia including Tasmania and the Hawai'ian Islands.
Introduction pathways to new locations
Nursery trade: Introduced into new regions because of the edibility of its fruit. >>more on the spread of R. niveus via the nursery trade.
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Humans, birds, and other organisms consume the fruit and excrete its seeds in other areas. Rubus species are known to be spread by fruit eating birds and mammals. It is likely that R. niveus is spread by animals as well (Starr et al. 2003). R. niveus in Galapagos can be dispersed long distances (up to 100m according to Buddenhagen and Jewell, 2006) by birds, rodents and feral animals (Guerrero, 2002; Landazuri, 2002; Buddenhagen and Jewell, 2006; Soria, 2006).
Garden escape/garden waste:
Intentional release: Introduced into new regions because of the edibility of its fruit (Rentería et al. 2006).
Mechanical: Mechanical control of Rubus niveus is difficult because the entire plant must be thoroughly removed to prevent regeneration. This is typically only successful when the plants are still small seedlings. The cutting back of plants may also be used as an initial step to chemical control (Starr et al. 2003).
Chemical: Motooka et al. (2003) found triclopyr ester in a crop oil carrier (either as drizzle applications at 1 lb./acre or as very low volume basal bark applications at a 15% concentration) to be successful in the management of R. niveus. They note that the species is supposedly resistant to triclopyr ester when water is the carrier. Applications at 1% concentration of a herbicide containing picloram and 2,4, D (commercial name Truper 101) are suggested by the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (Fundación Charles Darwin y Dirección del Parque Nacional Galapagos 2009).
In Galapagos, tests with pre-emergent herbicides have also yielded positive results: Butarroz (active ingredient butachlor at 2.25%) and Ronstar (active ingredient oxadiazon at 0.6%). These are useful in areas to kill the seed bank, and can be used in conjunction with replanting of natives.
Biological: The use of fungal pathogens for biological control of R. niveus is being explored, with Phragmidium barclayi Dietel, Phragmidium himalense J.Y. Zhuang, Phragmidium octoloculare Barclay, Phragmidium shogranense Petr., and Pseucercospora sp. having been identified as fungal pathogens from the species' native range (Ellison and Barreto, 2004).
In Hawai'i, five species of insect were released between 1963 and 1969 to control this species. Three of the five species established, and two were successful; Schreckensteinia festaliella, which completely defoliates the plant, and Croesia zimmermani, a leaf miner. However, as these species also attack the native Rubus, the programme was stopped (Nagata y Markin, 1986).
Cultural: Due to the large seed bank, weed control needs to be carried out in tandem with a change of land use to, for example pasture. In Galapagos, competition between introduced grasses (eg Brachiaria (Urochloa decumbens), or Tanzania (Panicum maximum cultivar Tanzania) may help reduce re-invasion by R. niveus. In some cleared areas in the Galapagos National Park there have been plantings of the native Scalesia pedunculata, an endemic tree of rapid growth, with the aim to provide shade and prevent weed growth. However, the effectiveness of this management tool is not evident.
Rubus niveus reproduces sexually through the production of thousands of seeds per bush per year (Renteria et al, 2006) as well as vegetatively (Starr et al. 2003).
In heavily invaded areas, R. niveus can form a seed bank of 7000-22800 seeds / m². The seeds need to be buried in the ground for at least nine months before germination. The germination rate is around 81% (Ruiz Cevallos, 1992; Landazuri, 2002, Soria, 2006). It is estimated that seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years. Although it is unknown for this species, we assume that it is similar to other temperate Rubus species and that the seeds could remain viable for more than 50 years (Graber and Thompson, 1978; Whitney, 1986). It is estimated that a plant takes six months to produce flowers and fruit in Galapagos where the species produces fruit all year with the quantity depending on the season. There is been increased fruiting at the end of the dry cold season (November-December) with a monthly production of up to 30 fruits per m2 (Ruiz, 1992; Landazuri, 2002).
Reviewed by: Dr Rachel Atkinson, Charles Darwin Foundation, Santa Cruz, Galapagos
Forest Starr and Kim Starr, Botanical Research Associates United States Geological Survey Biological Resources Division Makawao, Maui, Hawaii USA
Hawaii Invasive Species Council Coordinator Honolulu, Hawaii USA
Principal sources: Rentería, Jorge Luis; Rachel Atkinson, Ana Mireya Guerrero, Johanna Mader 2006. Manual de Identification y Manejo de Malezas en las Islas Galápagos. Segunda edición, Fundación Charles Darwin, Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.
Morton, J. 1987. Mysore Raspberry. p. 109–110. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) 1999. Rubus niveus Thunb., Rosaceae.
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Friday, 25 January 2008