Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pennsylvania Blackberry - Rubus pensilvanicus   Poiret
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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AuthorPoiret
DistributionOccurs statewide, though it is scarce in a few far eastern counties. Likely occurs in all 100 counties. As the former R. argutus was recently included within R. pensilvanicus, the BONAP map for R. pensilvanicus is now incorrect; check the BONAP map of R. argutus to see the main range of this enlarged species in the state.

This expanded species has a very wide range across southeastern Canada, and south to the Gulf Coast. It is likely present in nearly all counties in the eastern US except in southern FL.
AbundanceVery common to abundant in the Piedmont and most of the Coastal Plain, as well as lower and mid-elevations in the mountains. Not numerous in the higher mountains nor in the far eastern counties, such as on the Outer Banks (present there?).
HabitatThis is the ubiquitous blackberry of old fields, pastures, wooded margins, and other disturbed areas; many thickets are formed primarily of this species. It also grows in woodland openings.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
PhenologyBlooms in April and May; fruits from May into July.
IdentificationThis is the highly familiar blackberry over nearly all of the state, growing with long arching stems and reaching a height up to 6 feet tall. Many a biologist has been hindered doing field work by the strong prickles along the canes of this shrub. It has an abundance of thick prickles, and it typically has three or five leaflets, as do most other blackberries. It is most similar to R. allegheniensis of the mountains and foothills; however, R. pensilvanicus has glabrous flowering pedicels, as opposed to glandular (sticky) hairs on the pedicels of R. allegheniensis, which also may have glandular hairs on the stems (canes).
Taxonomic CommentsThe former R. argutus has recently been included within R. pensilvanicus -- see Flora of Virginia, Flora of North America website, and Weakley (2018). Note that quite a few other named blackberry species have also been included within this enlarged species.

Other Common Name(s)R. argutus had no widely adopted common name, and as a result it has a great array of common names – Sawtooth Blackberry, Common Blackberry, Eastern Blackberry, Prickly Florida Blackberry, Southern Blackberry, Highbush Blueberry, Tall Blackberry, and probably others. However, with the lumping of it within the enlarged P. pensilvanicus, that species has always had the common name of Pennsylvania Blackberry.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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