Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Black Raspberry
Rubus leucodermis

Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rubus (ROO-bus) (Info)
Species: leucodermis (loo-koh-DER-miss) (Info)

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USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

Sun Exposure:
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Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

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By kennedyh
Thumbnail #1 of Rubus leucodermis by kennedyh


No positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral MN_Darren On Jun 9, 2005, MN_Darren from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I'm in zone 4b and have had good results with this plant, and it has survived some really harsh winters (-35, and -20 with no snow cover, and I've never mulched it). Generally the last few, slender feet of each cane will not revive after winter, but when they're 8-12 feet long, who cares? I love to eat raspberries, but they're kind of a pain to keep. The main positive feature of the black raspberry is that if you prevent the canes from touching the ground and the berries from just falling and reseeding, it's very easy to control this one. It does not spread underground like the red ones I had briefly. In an urban lot it's not a good idea to plant ones that spread by rhizomes. The black raspberry sends up new, rapidly growing canes from the crown each summer that harden over the winter and bear fruit the next year, and then die. You can prune the fruiting canes out by the end of August and train the new canes upward. I don't usually prune the fruiting canes until the following season reveals how much of the length will bear fruit. Removal of the old canes each year is essential! Mine was planted by a previous owner at the base of a maple tree which I use for a sort of trellis. Canes on my mature plant often reach ten feet in length. I don't like to prune them to make them bushier because in April I lower, wrap and arrange them around the trunk. It has been there for at least 16 years and there is still only one plant. There is no spreading at the base, and it seems to maintain a fairly constant size now. It is a lot more thorny than a red raspberry, but less so than a climbing rose. You'll definitely need some rose gloves to work with it, and you definitely do need to keep an eye on the fast growing canes, but it's much easier than digging rhizomes out six inches under the surface. In other words, it's much better behaved in tight garden conditions. With more land, you can let the red ones run rampant. The flavor isn't quite as good, primarily because it has more seeds. They freeze nicely. We smash and strain them to make a tasty sauce--add some sugar and a little water, then drizzle over ice cream. The flavor is recognizably rasberry, but a bit like blackberry with the tartness of a blueberry.

Negative rubus On Dec 31, 2004, rubus from vancouver
Canada wrote:

The western black raspberry is extremely thorny. Extremely! It's fruits have a distinctive but inferior flavour to the eastern types. I have a few plants growing as a novelty but do not recommend them to gardeners. They are attractive but are definitely inferior in flavour to the eastern varieties. They are also much more difficult to handle. If you really want to grow them then be advised that they need to be pruned vigourously to get acceptible berry size. They do not need full sun, half a day of sunshine is adequate. They should not be allowed to dry out as they generally seem to grow at the edges of the forest in some shade. I am in Vancouver, B. C. which has the same climate as Seattle.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Oak Forest, Illinois
Blissfield, Michigan
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Cincinnati, Ohio
Olympia, Washington

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