Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - January 25, 2009

From: Fair Oaks, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Clearing out non-native Himalayan blackberry
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a way to clear an area of Himalayan blackberry? We have cut the canes back but wish to eliminate them completely so that we can replant that area with native plants attractive to wildlife. I live in the Sacramento area and have a property that slopes to a creek and then to the American River Parkway beyond. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks very much!

ANSWER:

We are not sure where the Himalayan blackberry got its name; likely some commercial nursery was looking for a name that would evoke thoughts of clear mountain air and fresh, pure fruit. They probably did not want the customer to think of the thorny thickets that reproduce aggressively, take over stream beds and shade out more desirable native vegetation. We found the plant identified with three different scientific names, Rubus procerns, Rubus discolor and Rubus armeniacus, none of which are native to North America.

Your state has been particularly unlucky with this plant. See this website from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Invasive and Non-Native Plants - Himalayan Blackberry.That site details the problems and has some suggestions for holding it at bay, if not destroying it. Ways of distinguishing this aggressor from less invasive native blackberries are listed, with pictures. 

Another site with information about the Himalayan blackberry in the Northwest is this one from Washington State University The Ten Most Un-Wanted Pests Himalayan Blackberry.

Both sites agree that persistence is about the only way to actually get rid of the plant. Constantly cutting off the canes at the ground will eventually starve the plant, but it can sucker from stems lying on the ground, and quickly spreads. One suggestion is to cut off the canes close to the ground and immediately paint the raw stump with an appropriate herbicide. It should be painted within 5 minutes of the cut, in order to get the material started to the roots before the cut begins to heal over. Another idea is to cut off the canes and then grub out the roots. Keep an eye out all the time for fresh suckers and yank them off the minute they are spotted. Don't spray herbicides as the spray can easily drift to a more desirable plant, and certainly never spray around berries that might be eaten. 


 

More Problem Plants Questions

Smoking mint instead of tobacco from Fairfield CA
March 23, 2013 - I realize this is a stupid question, but i am a little curious about this. Anyway I heard more people are smoking mint leaves to help cure their addiction to tobacco and i was wondering if it is s...
view the full question and answer

Identity of yellow-flowered plant with stickers
November 06, 2012 - I have yellow flowered plant taking over my lawn. I used weed killers last year and it has spread this year and still spreading. It has small burs (not as hard as a regular sticker bur but will stic...
view the full question and answer

Prevention of algae scum on standing water
December 16, 2007 - Because your answer to a previous question has resolved an "issue" referent to proper care of our cordgrass plants, I'm back to ask your advice. The pond behind our condominium complex is man-ma...
view the full question and answer

Low Water Use Plants for a Pond Island
November 06, 2014 - We have a medium sized pond/tank with a small island covered in black willows. The pond loses a lot of water and we were told it was partially due to the willows. We want to remove them and replace ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Ohio
September 21, 2010 - I have a vine in my forest that grows up trees, that could eventually pull them over. It has roundleaves and prickers on the stem. What is this vine so I can research it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.