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wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)




















Japanese wineberry
wine raspberry


SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for Rubus phoenicolasium.




TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of wineberry is
Rubus phoenicolasius Maxim. Wineberry is in the subgenus Idaeobatus,
which are raspberries in which the ripe fruit separates from the receptacle.

Hybridization within the Rubus genus occurs within and between sub-
genera. Although natural hybrids between wineberry and native Rubus
species have not been reported as of 2009, wineberry has been intention-
ally crossed with red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and black raspberry (Rubus
occidentalis) in breeding programs.


The majority of information on wineberry is from research at the Smith-
sonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland. It is unclear how
broadly applicable the results of these studies are to wineberry in other
geographic regions. Much information regarding wineberry ecology is
derived from the ecology of blackberries, in general. Although wineberry
ecology is likely similar to that of other blackberries, limited information
suggests that wineberry may differ from them in potentially important
ways, particularly in its physiology and site tolerances. Further research
is needed on nearly all aspects of wineberry biology and ecology.


NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States.


uous, thicket-forming shrub that produces upright and arching biennial
canes from a perennial root system. Canes average 1.6 to 4.9 feet (0.5-
1.5 m) in length and may reach 9 feet (2.7 m) tall. Canes are bristly and
thorny and covered with distinctive glandular red hairs that are 0.1 to 0.2
inch (3-5 mm) long. The hairs give the canes a reddish color when seen
from a distance. Wineberry leaves are compound and consist of 3 serrated,
blunt-tipped leaflets with purple veins that are densely white-tomentose
underneath. Petioles are densely hairy. The terminal leaflet is 1.6 to 3.9
inches (4-10 cm) long and about as wide. Lateral leaflets are 1.0 to 3.1 inch-
es (2.5-8.0 cm) long. Wineberry has small greenish flowers with white
petals that occur in a terminal panicle on glandular short-hairy pedicels.
The glandular-hairy calyx lobes envelop the developing fruits and keep
them covered until almost ripe. Wineberry fruit is 0.4 inch (1 cm) thick
and shiny red. Each fruit is composed of an aggregate of large succulent
drupelets commonly referred to as a "berry". Each fruit contains numer-
ous seeds that are 0.1 to 0.2 inch (2-4 mm) long.


REGENERATION PROCESS: Wineberry reproduces from seeds and
vegetatively from rhizomes and tip-rooting, a type of layering. All methods
of reproduction are likely important to wineberry's establishment and


Wineberry flowers are hermaphroditic and pollinated by insects. In field
experiments in mixed-hardwood forest in Maryland, wineberry was self-
compatible and less dependent upon cross-pollination by pollinators to set
fruit than a coexisting native congener, sawtooth blackberry, suggesting
that "wineberry could more easily establish itself in habitats with low
pollinator service or a lack of mates".


A review of blackberries states that good seed crops occur nearly every
year and that environmental factors affect the amount of flowering and
fruit production in the genus. As of 2009, little information was available
on seed production in wineberry; however, some authorities claim wine-
berry is capable of producing fruits in "great abundance". Wineberry may
not fruit until 3 years of age or more.


The number of seeds per fruit in wineberry ranges from 30 to 60.

Birds, reptiles, and mammals may contribute to the establishment and
spread of wineberry by dispersing and scarifying seeds. Examination of
fecal droppings of box turtles in the laboratory and white-tailed deer in
oak (Quercus spp.)-sugar maple-yellow- poplar-sweetbirch-American
beech forest in southern Connecticut suggest that these species may
disperse viable wineberry seeds.


Wineberry reproduces clonally from underground rhizomes and by tip-
rooting. Tip-rooting occurs when arching canes touch the ground and
adventitious roots form at the tip, giving rise to new ramets. Only canes
≥3.3 feet (1 m) tall tip-rooted in mixed-hardwood forest in Maryland;
at this site, tip-rooting was the predominant form of vegetative repro-
duction and typically occurred in large tree-fall gaps with high light. Wine-
berry may not reach adequate size for tip-rooting until 3 years of age or


SITE CHARACTERISTICS: In the eastern United States, wineberry
occupies a wide range of habitats including early- to midsuccessional forest,
floodplain forest, herbaceous and shrub wetland, wet meadows, riparian
corridors, old fields, open disturbed areas, burned areas, trailsides, road-
sides, ditches, and vacant lots, as well as ecotones between these habitats.

Wineberry prefers open, mesic conditions with rich soils but tolerates a
wide range of soil types, textures, and pH values. At Great Falls Park in
northeastern Virginia, wineberry occurred on soils ranging from "relatively
fertile", with basic pH, and silt loam to silty clay loam textures to dry,
"extremely acidic, infertile" silty clay loams. At this site, wineberry
occurred on very dry upper slopes and ridge crests with "high solar expo-
sure and low moisture potential" as well as seasonally flooded swamps.
Wineberry occurred on wet, seasonally flooded and mesic soils at the
Piscataway and Fort Washington National Parks in Maryland. Along a
250-mile (402 km) reach of the New River Gorge in West Virginia, wine-
berry was found at a variety of sites including regularly flooded stream-
beds, riverside beach areas, and wooded upper beach areas with soils
ranging from cobblestone and gravel to sand and mudflats. Additional
sites occupied by wineberry in this study included rocky summits and
cliff faces and woodlands with shallow and sandy soils.


SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Growth and development of wineberry is
typical of blackberries. Wineberry produces biennial canes from a peren-
nial root system or from underground rhizomes. First year canes (primo-
cane) are unbranched, sterile, entirely vegetative, and develop from
rhizominous buds at or below the ground surface. In the 1st year, carbon
allocation is primarily into leaf production and cane elongation. In the 2nd
year, lateral branches develop in the axils of the primocanes and produce
leaves, flowers, and fruits, but "do not have extensive growth". Second-
year canes are referred to as "floricanes". Unlike primocanes, floricanes
are woody.


In April, floricanes produce new leaves. In early May, new primocanes
originate from the perennial root system. In late May, floricanes undergo
lateral branching and may produce flowers and fruit; fruit production
occurs in late June to August. Fruits of wineberry ripen together. After
producing fruit in late summer, the leaves of floricanes senesce and the
cane gradually dies. In Maryland, wineberry loses its leaves in late Novem-


Wineberry tolerates a range of light levels, with light availability in suitable
habitat ranging from full sun to partial shade. Although established plants
may persist in low light, wineberry germination and survival appear best in
moderate to high light environment.


SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Blackberries in North America occur on
a range of sites at all stages of succession, but the majority of blackberries
are considered pioneers of open and disturbed habitats and are capable of
invading and rapidly occupying burns, eroded areas, old fields, and logged
areas. Dense stands of blackberries can prevent or greatly delay establish-
ment of trees and other species.


Like many other blackberries, wineberry is generally considered a pioneer
or early-successional species that flourishes after disturbance, often form-
ing dense thickets and dominating sites.


Treefall gaps and other local disturbances may play important roles in
the establishment and persistence of wineberry. A field study at the
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland found wine-
berry ramets and seedlings occurred more frequently in 2-year-old,
storm-created gaps than in random plots in 135-year-old ("old") forest
dominated by yellow-poplar, oak, hickory, American beech, and sweet-
gum and 45-year-old ("young") forest dominated by yellow-poplar.

Greater establishment of wineberry seedlings at sites with high light and
exposed mineral soil (i.e., large gaps with uprooted trees) indicates that
disturbance may be important for seedling establishment. In old forest
gaps, density of wineberry ramets was 34 times greater and primocane
length was 2 times greater in large gaps (size range: 290-939 m²) than in
small gaps (size range: 38-200 m²). In addition, sexual and asexual repro-
duction were more common in large gaps than in small gaps. In old stands,
fruits were present in 15% of large gaps but not in small gaps or random
plots, and tip-rooting was most common in large gaps. In young stands,
fruits were found in 100% of all gaps and 20% of random plots, but tip-
rooting was "extremely rare". Wineberry seedling density was 4 times
greater in gaps associated with uprooted trees compared to gaps with
"snapped" trees. Once established, measures of survivorship indicated
that wineberry individuals persisted despite canopy closure.


Treefall gaps appear less important for wineberry seedling establishment,
vegetative reproduction, and fruiting in early than in late succession. For
example, in the young forest, seedling establishment and fruiting was not
limited to gaps. Although wineberry ramets were more likely to occur at
sites with high light and large gaps, ramets that occurred in low light were
more likely to occur in the young forest than in the old forest. Greater pro-
portion of bare mineral soil and fewer layers of leaf litter in the young forest
compared to the old forest may partially explain seedling establishment and
fruiting outside of gaps in the young forest. These data suggest that in
young forest wineberry may establish and spread without canopy-opening


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Wineberry is nonnative in North America.
Wineberry was introduced to the United States in 1890 as breeding stock
for blackberry cultivars, although the date of introduction may have been
earlier. Its North American distribution is from eastern Canada, New
England and New York south to Georgia and west to Michigan, Illinois,
and Arkansas. It is considered invasive in Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and the District of
Columbia. Disjunct populations of wineberry may occur in Colorado and
possibly British Columbia, Canada. In 1950, Fernald described the range
of wineberry as extending from Massachusetts to Indiana and south to
Virginia and Kentucky, indicating that its range has expanded consider-
ably over the past 50 years. Wineberry is native to China, Japan, and




Shrub specimens can be found on trails marked in red.


       Bleak House
       Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
       South Ridge/North Ridge
       Gap Run
       Woodpecker Lane

       Sherman's Mill
       Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
       Fish Pond


The specific distribution for wineberry has not been determined.


associations of nonnative species are often difficult to describe accurately
because detailed survey information is lacking, there are gaps in under-
standing of nonnative species' ecological relationships, and they may still
be expanding their North American range.


Wineberry is a cultivated raspberry that has escaped to a wide variety of
habitats and plant communities throughout the eastern United States. It
is frequently associated with early- to midsuccessional hardwood species,
such as hickory (Carya spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), and
ash (Fraxinus spp.). In the inner Coastal Plains region of Mount Vernon,
Virginia, wineberry occurred in the "low woods" community dominated by
boxelder (Acer negundo), red maple (Acer rubrum), river birch (Betula
nigra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and sycamore (Platanus
). Wineberry was widely distributed and routinely observed in
Great Falls Park in Fairfax County, Virginia, although it was not considered
invasive. It was most common in the Northern Piedmont Small-Stream
Floodplain Forest dominated by yellow-poplar, red maple, boxelder, and
sycamore and the Northern Coastal Plain/Piedmont Basic Mesic Hardwood
Forest dominated by American beech (Fagus grandifolia), yellow-poplar,
and bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis). Wineberry also occurred in the
Potomac River Bedrock Terrace Oak-Hickory Forest dominated by pignut
hickory (Carya glabra), northern red oak, chestnut oak (Quercus prinus),
and white ash (Fraxinus americana); the Northern Piedmont/Lower New
England Red Maple Seepage Swamp; and the Piedmont Dry-Mesic Acidic
Oak-Hickory Forest dominated by white oak (Quercus alba), northern red
oak, and mockernut hickory (Carya alba). Along a 250-mile (402 km)
reach of the New River Gorge in West Virginia, wineberry was found at 8
of 34 sites; these sites included yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak-
sugar maple (Liriodendron tulipifera-Quercus alba-Quercus rubra-Acer
saccharum) forest, sycamore-river birch forest, Virginia pine-eastern
redcedar-post oak (Pinus virginiana-Juniperus virginiana-Quercus
stellata) woodland, midelevation quartzite rocky summits and cliff faces,
black willow (Salix nigra)-river birch streambed, and disturbed areas.
At Fernow Experimental Forest in north-central West Virginia wineberry
occurred in mixed-mesophytic forest dominated by northern red oak,
yellow-poplar, black cherry (Prunus serotina), sugar maple, American
beech, sweetbirch (Betula lenta), red maple, basswood (Tilia americana),
white ash, chestnut oak, sassafras (Sassafras albidum), black gum (Nyssa
sylvatica), and bitternut hickory.


Wineberry is infrequent in many plant communities. At Strounds Run
State Park in southeastern Ohio, wineberry was relatively infrequent in
mesic ravines and stream terraces dominated by red maple, sugar maple,
shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), American beech, green ash, tulip-poplar,
black cherry, and northern red oak, pine (Pinus spp.) plantations, and dis-
turbed areas including roadsides and trail edges. In Baltimore City, Mary-
land, wineberry occurred relatively infrequently in both urban and rural
forest of the Piedmont Plateau physiographic province where vegetation
consisted of yellow-poplar, chestnut oak, scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea),
and white oak in the uplands, and red maple, green ash, American elm
(Ulmus americana), river birch, and sycamore in the lowlands. At the
Piscataway and Fort Washington National Parks in Maryland, wineberry
was relatively uncommon within 4 physiographic areas: the tertiary slope-
lands, the Piscataway Creek floodplain, the Potomac River lowland, and
deciduous woodland edge.


Wineberry is frequently associated with native blackberries including
Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis), black raspberry (Rubus
), sawtooth blackberry (Rubus argutus), and Pennsylvania
blackberry (Rubus pennsylvanicus). Wineberry also co-occurs with other
nonnative blackberries such as evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus) and
Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor).


Because wineberry occurs in many types of disturbed areas, it is frequently
associated with other nonnative and invasive species that occur at these
sites. Wineberry occurred with princesstree (Paulownia tomentosa),
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japanica), and tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus
) in disturbed areas in Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife
Management Area in Tennessee. In mixed-mesophytic forest in Penn-
sylvania, wineberry occurred with tree-of-heaven, Japanese barberry
(Berberis thunbergii), autumn-olive, Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium
vimineum), and multiflora rose. In the Wave Hill Natural Area of southern
New York, wineberry occurred in 44% of 238 quadrats with an average
cover of 1.6% across 4 vegetation associations (oak-maple forest, black
locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) forest, sweetbirch forest, and open areas)
and was associated with other nonnative invasive species such as multi-
flora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, and tree-of-heaven. Other nonnative
associates include oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and white
mulberry (Morus alba).


IMPORTANCE AND USES: Birds and similar wildlife nest and feed in
these thickets, using the thorns to protect themselves as they hide from


Wineberry was introduced into the United States in 1890 as breeding stock
for new Rubus cultivars. It is used today by berry breeders to add specific
genes to berry varieties or species. Wineberry is an example of one man's
flower being another man's weed. Given containment, wineberry has desir-
able and useful qualities, but due to its invasive nature, it is considered a
significant pest of agricultural and natural ecosystems. Wineberry has been
used as a virus indicator for raspberry yellow spot and wineberry latent
virus and numerous plant viruses have been isolated from it.



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