Rubus ulmifolius – Series Discolores

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This is the familiar hedgerow bramble, common and widespread over the whole of lowland Britain. It is one of very few sexual species, so can (in effect) hybridise with the other apomictic (self-fertilising) species. Unusually for brambles it prefers to grow in open, sunny conditions on neutral to calcareous soils. It is somewhat invasive of waste ground and neglected habitats, but slower growing and less robust than R. armeniacus. The main features are the large, often erect panicles of pink flowers, the small convex leaflets and the robust purple stems.

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Flower colour is variable – most typically deep pink but often very pale pink or appearing almost white. It normally flowers later than most other species, in July onwards in southern Britain. The styles can be green or reddish and the anthers are sometimes covered with short hairs.

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The two photos below show the distinctive curled over, rather untidy-looking leaflets which are glabrous above. The terminal leaflet is typically only about 5-7cm long.

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The leaf undersides are white-felted below, with a silky texture, in common with most other species in the Discolores. Any odd-looking bramble with smallish leaves that are white below is likely to be a variant or hybrid of this species. The leaf shape is sometimes more narrowly elliptical than the typical forms shown here.

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Stems are bluntly angled and deeply furrowed. They are covered with a whitish, waxy bloom and have scattered to dense appressed fine hairs, but no glands. The prickles have very broad bases.

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The fruits are relatively small, but have the familiar and distinctive blackberry taste.

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