Rubus alceifoliusPoir

Giant bramble poses a potential threat to tropical and subtropical environments in North America.

IDENTITY
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Name: Rubus alceifolius Poir
Taxonomic Position:
Metaphyta: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Rosales: Rosaceae
Common Names: Giant bramble (Australia)

Significance:
This weed is native to southeast Asia and China, and was identified by the Weed Science Society of America in 2001 as one of sixteen pest plants posing the greatest "offshore" threat to US ecosystems. Rubus alceifolius is not known to occur in North America or to be listed under the provisions of the US Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974. In 2000, IUCN listed giant bramble among the top 100 invasive species of the world (there were only 35 plant species on the list). This plant, despite its pest potential, is sold by at least one nursery over the internet as a groundcover species.

Issues of Concern: Rubus alceifolius is a coarse, vigorous scrambling shrub with a woody rootstock and scattered, hooked prickles. It reproduces both by seed and vegetative layering, and is able to cover other plants and form dense thickets. Local spread is greatly facilitated by birds and animals eating the berries, as well as rooting at the tips of arching shoots. Giant bramble can gain a foothold on newly cleared lands, such as developing pastures and roadsides, and other open places as are found along creekbanks and forest perimeters, and in wet gullies. From these sources, R. alceifolius is able to invade areas of minimally disturbed primary forest. Its thickets reduce pasture productivity and may alter local hydrology, limiting access to water for other plants.

Rubus alceifolius presents a potential for serious impact on natural vegetation in tropical and subtropical regions of North America, including Hawaii. However, a nursery in England that sells this species notes that R. alceifolius was "quite vigorous and almost evergreen" during recent mild winters there. This observation suggests that giant bramble is more climate hardy than believed.

Pathways: This species is sold as a commodity over the internet.

Distribution:
Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam); Australia (Queensland); Mascarene Islands (La Reunion).

Quarantines: Australia placed this species on its noxious weed list in 2000.


OTHER INFORMATION:
References:
Holm, L.G., Pancho, J.V., Herberger, J.P. and Plucknett, D.L. 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons. 391 pp.
MacDonald, I.A.W., Thebaud, C., Strahm, W.A., and Strasberg, D. 1991. Effects of alien plant invasions on native vegetation remnants on La Reunion (Mascarene Islands, Indian Ocean). Environmental Conservation 18: 51-61.
Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. 1992. Noxious weeds of Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne/Sydney. Pp. 575-577.

Useful Links:
http://www.nrm.qld.gov.au/resourcenet/fact_sheets/pdf/pest/PP24.pdf

Warning: The information in this archived item was not confirmed with the appropriate National Plant Protection Organization and is provided solely for informational purposes. Please use this information with caution.