Rubus subgenus Rubus
(Rubus caesius L. and Rubus fruticosus L. sensu lato)

The mapping/accounts page is here

Species-accounts are those from A Flora of Cumbria (1997), for species which are covered therein. Updating comments may be added in due course.

Forty-one species were covered in A Flora of Cumbria; fifty-seven are currently recorded.
(For completeness the five Cumbrian non-bramble Rubus species are included in the menu.)

Introductory account and key, A Flora of Cumbria (1997)

This account and the accompanying maps are based chiefly on records made by GH from 1980 and contributions from A. Newton (AN, from 1972), E.S. Edees (ESE, 1954-1965) and C.W. Muirhead (1943- 1972). The time span is therefore appreciably longer than the 20 years of the recording scheme, although of the 42 species recorded only Rubus bertramii and R. amplificatus have not been seen during the Survey. A number of recorders have also assisted with the collection of material, notably JA, AAD and MG, and the initial stimulus leading to the recent activity was provided by a collection from south Cumbria by A.J. Sherwood in 1980 and 1981. A significant result of these efforts is a large, modern, comprehensive collection of Cumbrian specimens in LANC. Almost all the Survey records, except those of the commoner species, have been checked by A. Newton. He has also seen most of C.W. Muirhead’s collection (CLE, PLYP).
Lack of space and uncertainties regarding identification and synonyms mean that references in this account to pre-1940 literature records and first vice-county records are largely omitted. Early herbarium records, accepted by ESE and AN, are cited where these supplement recent records. Few of the records in the three county Floras were made by the authors and the only early papers which make any significant contribution to our knowledge of Cumbrian brambles, particularly of the Lake District, are those of Ley & Linton (1906) and Rogers (1907).
Despite the daunting nature of attempting to record brambles on a tetrad basis, probably the first such vice-county survey, the often well defined and varied distributions suggest that there are probably few areas which are so under-recorded as to render the maps misleading, and further that distortions due to over-collecting along roadsides is of little significance. In fact woodlands and especially heaths, the characteristic habitats in southern England, are relatively unimportant in Cumbria where brambles are very much a feature of roadside verges, the edges of stone walls, waste ground and neglected pasture. An exception is the section Rubus, the species of which occur chiefly around lowland mosses and by becksides, particularly in the Lake District.
Brambles are essentially lowland, rarely being found over 250 m, and no single species is characteristic of higher altitudes. In the south-east of the county R. robiae ascends to 305 m in Garsdale and the coastal R. ulmifolius to 270 m, north-east of Sedbergh. In the east, R. dasyphyllus and R. latifolius reach 270 m at Alston and R. adenanthoides 475 m at Nenthead. while the garden R. armeniacus grows at 210 m at the M6 service station north of Tebay. Members of section Corylifolii are noticeably absent from the Lake District, a fact which makes brambling there distinctly pleasurable! Yet these are the only brambles present in the upland limestone area between Asby and Orton.
Although 40 species of brambles may seem quite a rich flora, and it is by northern standards, it is nevertheless paltry compared with that of southern English counties. This relative paucity does however ease the task for beginners and it is hoped that the following key and the brief diagnostic notes will assist them in becoming acquainted with the species. Care is of course necessary. Material from extremes of shade or exposure should be avoided. Well-developed mature leaves and stem from new vegetative shoots and a terminal flowering panicle of a shoot of the previous year are usually both necessary. It is also important to note the colour of newly opened flowers. A particular problem is the frequency with which species intermingle making it only too easy unwittingly to collect vegetative and flowering material of different species.
This account follows the sequence and nomenclature of Edees & Newton (1988), the species being arranged alphabetically within the relevant groups. It must be stressed that within subsection Hiemales the series represent artificial divisions of a spectrum of variation and they are not therefore as precise as one would like. The following names used in earlier Floras differ from those used by Edees & Newton.
R. affinis (= mostly R. nemoralis); R. bellardii (=?); R. carpinifolius (= mostly R. polyanthemus and R. errabundus); R. corylifolius var. conjungens (= R. latifolius) var. sublustris (= R. pruinosus); R. discolor (= R. ulmifolius); R. drejeri (= R. anisacanthos); R. dumetorum var. diversifolius (= R. tuberculatus) R. fissus (= R. scissus); R. fuscus (=?); R. hirtifolius var. danicus (=?); R. hystrix (= R. hylocharis); R. incurvatus (= R. incurvatiformis); R. koeleri subsp. dasyphyllus (= R. dasyphyllus) ; var. infestus (= R. infestus); var. pallidus (= R. dasyphyllus); R. leucostachys (= R. vestitus); R. maasii (= R. polyanthemus); R. macrophyllus (=?); R. mercicus var. bracteatus (= R. cumbrensis); R. opacus (unnamed Langdale plant); R. pyramidalis (= R. incurvatiformis); R. radula var. echinatoides (= R. echinatoides); R. rhamnifolius (= R. errabundus and R. furnarius) var. cordifolius (=?); R. rogersii (= R. fissus); R. rosaceus (= R. hylocharis); R. rudis (= R. echinatoides); R. rusticanus (= R. ulmifolius); R. salteri (= R. errabundus); R. scheutzii (= R. errabundus); R. selmeri (= R. nemoralis); R. suberectus (= R. nessensis); R. umbrosus (= R. polyanthemus); R. villicaulis (= R. nemoralis)

The following species occur in neighbouring vice-counties but as yet have not been found in Cumbria.
R. rubritinctus [NB: found in Kendal area, 2002–4, A.M. Boucher] and R. sprengelii (v.c.60, W. Lancs.), although Baker cites an unsubstantiated record from Storrs, Windermere (3.9).
R. hebridensis and R. lanaticaulis (v.c.71, Isle of Man)
R. leptothyrsos (v.c.72, Dumfriess.)
R. scotticus (v.c.73, Kirkcudbrights.)


Stems refer to first-year vegetative shoots

1. Stems more or less erect, not tip-rooting: Section Rubus subsection Rubus
  2. Prickles more than 10 per 5 cm, slender, not confined to stem angles:  R. scissus
  2. Prickles usually fewer than 10 per 5 cm, more or less confined to the stem angles
   3. Petals distinctly pink:  R. plicatus
   3. Petals white or very pale pink
    4. Lflets 5; ripe fruits black:  R. plicatus
    4. Lflets sometimes 6 or 7; ripe fruits black or dark red
     5. Lflets somewhat unevenly serrate; stamens reflexed after anthesis; ripe fruits dark red  R. nessensis
     5. Lflets finely serrate; stamens not reflexed after anthesis; ripe fruits black:  R. fissus
1. Stems arching, often tip-rooting
  6. Stems slender; lflets 3; fruits pruinose: Section Caesii:  R. caesius
  6. Stems not slender; lflets (3-)5; fruit not pruinose
   7. Basal lflets sessile, or almost so: Sect. Corylifolii
    8. Stems with very few if any stalked glands, prickles equal
     9. Terminal lflet rhomboidal; petals pink:  R. eboracensis
     9. Terminal lflet broadly ovate or rounded, large; petals white
      10. Stem angled, not shining:  R. latifolius
      10. Stem rounded, often shining:  R. pruinosus
    8. Stems with stalked glands, prickles unequal
     11. Lflets large, broadly ovate; petals c.17 mm long:  R. tuberculatus
     11. Lflets small, rounded-cordate; petals c.10 mm long:  R. warrenii
   7. Basal lflets shortly but distinctly stalked: Section Rubus subsection Hiemales
   12. Panicle without conspicuous stalked glands
    13. Lvs chalky white beneath; petals pink
     14. Lvs coriaceous, terminal lflet < 10 cm long; petals c. 10 mm:  R. ulmifolius
     14. Lvs not coriaceous, terminal lflet > 10 cm long; petals c. 18 mm:  R. armeniacus
    13. Lvs not chalky white beneath; petals white or pink
     15. Fls white, rarely pink in bud
      16. Panicle as broad as long, branches patent, with many fine, pale prickles:  R. lindleianus
      16. Panicle distinctly longer than broad, branches ascending
        17. Panicle with stout, recurved prickles
         18. Lvs felted beneath:  R.lindebergii
         18. Lvs thin, not felted beneath:  R. lacustris
        17. Panicle with mostly straight, declining prickles
         19. Lvs appearing green beneath, not obviously hairy:  R. silurum
         19. Lvs hairy beneath
         20. Lvs distinctly softly felted beneath:  R. incurvatiformis
         20. Lvs hairy beneath, not softly felted
           21. Terminal lflet large, irregularly serrate to subentire, the base cuneate or truncate
            22. Lflets rounded, subentire  R. cumbrensis
            22. Lflets obovate, cuspidate, irregularly serrate:  R. amplificatus
           21. Terminal lflet small, neatly serrate; cordate  R. furnarius
15. Fls pale to deep pink
   23. Lflets deeply incised:  R. laciniatus
   23. Lflets not deeply incised
    24. Anthers conspicuously hairy
     25. Terminal lflet large, rounded:  R. errabundus
     25. Terminal lflet rhomboidal, cuspidate  R. rhombifolius
    24. Anthers not conspicuously hairy
     26. Panicle with strongly recurved prickles:  R. nemoralis
     26. Panicle with straight, usually declining prickles
      27. Lflets usually large and rounded, those of the panicle often concave and felted below; panicle narrowly pyramidal:  R. polyanthemus
      27. Lflets flat, not felted beneath; panicle lax
        28. Prickles long and narrow; young carpels hairy:  R. elegantispinosus
        28. Prickles broad-based; young carpels glabrous
         29. Terminal lflet rounded-truncate, finely serrate, hairs on underside along veins crisped; sepals reflexed:  R. robiae
         29. Terminal lflet ovate, somewhat irregularly serrate, hairs on underside along veins straight and shining; sepals patent:  R. pyramidalis
12. Panicle with conspicuous stalked glands
  30. Fls white
   31. Prickles uniform, not grading into pricklets:  R. vestitus
   31. Prickles grading into pricklets
    32. Stems rough with numerous gland-tipped acicles
     33. Panicle large, with long patent branches:  R. pallidus
     33. Panicle narrow, dense:  R. newboldii
    32. Stems almost smooth, with few gland-tipped acicles
     34. Lflets large, rounded, the basal often almost sessile:  R. anisacanthos
     34. Lflets small-medium, obovate, the basal never sessile:  R. echinatoides
  30. Fls pink
   35. Prickles uniform, not merging into pricklets
    36. Stems smooth, lacking acicles and conspicuous stalked glands
     37. Stems distinctly hairy; lflets felted beneath:  R. vestitus
     37. Stems glabrous or almost so; lflets not felted beneath
      38. Lflets medium-sized; anthers glabrous:  R. wirralensis
      38. Lflets large; anthers hairy:  R. mucronulatus
    36. Stems rough with acicles, stalked glands present
     39. Stems glabrous:  R. raduloides
     39. Stems hairy
      40. Lflets often 3, the lower often lobed; panicle dense:  R. adenanthoides
      40. Lflets 5, entire; panicle not dense:  R. radula
   35. Prickles unequal, merging into pricklets
    41. Terminal lflet large, rounded-cordate, the lowest often sessile:  R.anisacanthos
    41. Terminal lflet not rounded, lflets all stalked
     42. Panicle with stout, strongly recurved prickles:  R. infestus
      42. Panicle with straight, declining prickles
        43. Lflets often 3, the lower often lobed; panicle large and dense:  R. adenanthoides
        43. Lflets usually 5; panicle narrow and few- flowered or large and lax
         44. Panicle large, with long patent branches; petals 15-20 mm, narrow:  R. hylocharis
         44. Panicle few-fld, narrow; petals c. 12 mm:  R. dasyphyllus