Rubus cuneifolius

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Rubus cuneifolius
Rubus cuneifolius NRCS.jpg
Photo by Robert H. Mohlenbrock hosted at USDA NRCS Plants Database.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae - Rose family
Genus: Rubus - blackberry
Species: R. cuneifolius
Binomial name
Rubus cuneifolius
Natural range of Rubus cuneifolius from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common Name(s): sand blackberry[1][2], sand bramble, wedge sand blackberry[2]

Taxonomic Notes

Varieties: R. cuneifolius var. angustior; R. cuneifolius var. subellipticus; R. cuneifolius var. spiniceps[2]
; R. sejunctus L.H. Bailey

Synonyms: R. chapmannii; R. dixiensis


Rubus cuneifolius is a dioecious perennial subshrub.[2]


R. cuneifolius is found primarily on the coastal plains from Connecticut and New York south to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.[1][2]



R. cuneifolius commonly inhabits woodlands, forests, and disturbed areas.[1] This includes early successional areas.[3] It uses a medium amount of water, occurs in full sunlight to partial shade, and has a medium tolerance to calcium carbonate.[4] A study in the Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia, found R. cuneiolius was present in uncut-burned areas with a mean biomass of 1.16 g m-2 yr-1.[5]


R. cuneifolius has been observed to flower between March and June with peak inflorescence in April,[1][6] with fruiting occurring from May through July.[7] R. cuneifolius produces a white conspicuous flower.[4] The timing of flowering has been shown to be sensitive to ozone levels where elevated levels cause earlier flowering but produce fewer large ripe fruits.[3] Standing crops of fruit in Georgia flatwoods peaked at 114.5 g Dm-2 with 52% of plots containing fruit in 5 year old plantations.[8] It typically does not flower and fruit until the second year following fire.[9]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates. [10] Seeds of R. cuneifolius are likely primarily dispersed by migrating birds and deer which consume the fruits.[11]

Seed bank and germination

Seeds of R. cuneifolius were commonly observed in Georgia seed banks of longleaf pine - wiregrass - bracken fern forests maintained by annual spring burns since 1961.[12] Annual disking of fallow fields in different months also did not affect the presence of Rubus cuneifolius suggesting an abundance of seeds in the seed bank.[13]

Fire ecology

R. cuneifolius readily resprouts following fire and is often found in burned areas as seedlings germinating from the seed bank,k[12] but it appears to be somewhat intolerant of long-term competition with later successional fire-tolerant perennials.[14] Removal of fire from old-field pineland for 44 years did not produce an increase in R. cuneifolius frequency, but rather a decrease from 80 individual in 1966 to 69 in 2013.[15]


R. cuneifolius is recognized to attract a large number of native bees for pollination.[4]

Use by animals

Berries produced by R. cuneifolius are highly palatable by browsing animals, composing 10-25% of the diet for many species of terrestrial birds, large mammals and small mammals. It is also an occasional source of cover for small mammals and terrestrial birds.[2] Because R. cuneifolius fruits in the late summer, it is likely an important source of energy for fall migrating bird species.[7] Besides attracting pollinators, R. cuneifolius is known for providing nesting materials/structure for native bees.[4]

Diseases and parasites

R. cuneifolius hosts several species of thripes (Frankliniella spp.) which are tiny insects (1 mm or less) that feed on new plant growth producing cosmetic damage and sometimes transmitting diseases to the plant.[16]

Conservation and Management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Weakley A. S.(2015). Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 USDA, NRCS. (2016). The PLANTS Database (, 30 November 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chappelka A. H. (2002). Reproductive development of blackberry (Rubus cuneifolius), as influenced by ozone. New Phytologist 155-249-255.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Plant database: Rubus cunifolius. (11 December 2017).Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. URL:
  5. McKinley C. E. and Day, Jr. F. P. (1979). Herbaceous production in cut-burned, uncut-burned, and control areas of a Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) BSP (Cupressaceae) stand in the Great Dismal Swamps. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 106(1):20-28.
  6. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 6 DEC 2017
  7. 7.0 7.1 Skeate S. T. (1987). Interactions between birds and fruits in a northern Florida hammock community. Ecology 68(2):297-309.
  8. Johnson A. S. and Landers J. L (1978). Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. The Journal of Wildlife Management 42(3):606-613.
  9. Robertson, K.M. 2017. Personal observation at Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida.
  10. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  11. White D. W. and Stiles E. W. (1992). Bird dispersal of fruits of species introduced into eastern North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 70(8):1689-1696.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Buckner J. L. and Landers J. L. (1979). Fire and disking effects on herbaceous food plants and seed supplies. The Journal of Wildlife Management 43(3):807-811.
  13. Kay C. A. R., Clewell A. F., and Ashler E. W. (1978). Vegetative cover in a fallow field: Responses to season of soil disturbance. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 105(2):143-147.
  14. Robertson, K.M. 2017. Unpublished data from Ecosystem Services Project on Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida.
  15. Clewell A. F. (2014). Forest development 44 years after fire exclusion in formerly annually burned oldfield pine woodland, Florida. Castanea 79(3):147-167.
  16. Chellemi D. O., Funderburk J. E., and Hall D. W. (1994). Seasonal abundance of flower-inhabiting Frankliniella species (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) on wild plant species. Environmental Entomology 23(2):377-342.