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Rubus occidentalis (Black raspberry)
Smith, R.W.

Rubus occidentalis

Rubus occidentalis L.

Black Raspberry, Thimbleberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Synonym(s): Rubus occidentalis var. pallidus

USDA Symbol: ruoc

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A multi-stemmed shrub, 3-8 ft. tall and between 6-12 ft. wide. Commonly forms broad colonies. Long, slender, arching canes. Bark is purplish-red and armed with prickles. Blue-green summer foliage is palmately or pinnately compound, becoming yellowish in fall. Flat-topped clusters of five-petaled flowers are followed by round, raspberry-like, red berries which mature to black.


From the Image Gallery

41 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 8 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Black or red aggregated drupelets.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: S. ME to ND & n.c. CO, s. to GA, LA, OK & KS
Native Habitat: Open woods; bluffs; thickets; stream banks; wet meadows, roadsides & pastures

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Gravelly or sandy loams.
Conditions Comments: A number of horticultural varieties have been developed from this species.


Use Wildlife: Very high for songbirds, game birds, and large and small mammals.
Warning: Plant has thorns or prickles.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Divisions, tip layering, and digging up suckers are the most common methods of propagation. Increase by seed is not as easy but is possible.
Seed Collection: Rubus fruits should be collected as soon as ripe to prevent losses to birds. The seeds can be extracted by macerating in water.
Seed Treatment: The hard, impermeable seed coat needs scarification. Both H2SO4 and sodium hypochlorite have been used. Scarification is sometimes followed by a complex combination of warm and cold stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Rubus occidentalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rubus occidentalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rubus occidentalis


Record Modified: 2022-10-21
Research By: TWC Staff

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