A Very Thorny Problem

Invasive wineberry, Rubus phoenicolasius (photo by Kate St. John)

Last week this thorny alien showed off its armor in Schenley Park.

Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) is an Asian member of the Rose family that was introduced to North America in the 1890s as breeding stock for raspberries. What a mistake! It became invasive in less than 100 years.

Wineberry is easy to distinguish from native raspberries because, in addition to thorns, the stems are coated with sharp red hairs. The stems look red from afar and dangerous up close.

Wineberry canes (Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org)

During the growing season wineberry resembles other raspberries with leaves that are white underneath and clustered flowers and fruits.

Wineberry leaves (photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org)
Wineberry foliage and developing fruit (photo by Richard Gardner, bugwood.org)

However, wineberry fruits are bright red.

Wineberry fruit (photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org)

I’m sure the fruit is good for birds but it’s practically inaccessible to other wildlife because the plant is so formidable.

Whether you’re trying to pick its fruit, cross the thicket, or remove the plant, wineberry is a very thorny problem.

Read more about wineberry and its invasive properties at New York Invasive Species Information: Wineberry.

(first photo by Kate St. John, remaining photos from bugwood.org. See photo credits and links to the originals in the captions.)

2 thoughts on “A Very Thorny Problem

  1. At least wineberries are tasty. I keep a patch in my backyard on some rough, shady terrain. It produces delicious fruit every summer despite no maintenance or watering from me. There are a lot of wineberry recipes online, too. I highly recommend foraging some next summer!

    1. KEM, thanks letting us know how good they taste. Maybe I’ll be brave and try to pick some next year.

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