Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Swamp Dewberry - Rubus hispidus   L.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionA bimodal distribution, being found throughout the mountains, and scattered over nearly all of the Coastal Plain. Records are more widely scattered over the Piedmont, with a number of sizable gaps in the range there.

Though it occurs generally statewide in NC, this is mostly a Northern species; widespread in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S., south mostly to central SC and central TN; a few records for GA and AL.
AbundanceCommon in the mountains, and reasonably common to common in the northern half of the Coastal Plain. Uncommon in the southern half of the Coastal Plain, but very rare to rare in most of the Piedmont (and locally absent).
HabitatThis is a wetland species, of damp but not overly wet soils. Found in low woods, bogs, and montane swamps, as well as in pocosins, bay forests, and other shaded to semi-shaded, acidic soils. Exactly why it is so scarce in the Piedmont is not obvious, as there is certainly an abundance of acidic wetlands there.
PhenologyFlowers in May and June; fruits June and July.
IdentificationThis is a semi-evergreen trailing shrub, though it may lose leaves late in the season. It has vine-like stems (to several feet) lying on the ground. The 3 leaflets are thick and shiny, looking quite evergreen; they are more rounded (obovate) than are the leaves of other trailing blackberries/dewberries, and it should be recognized readily even without flowers. Also, it tends to occur in thicker patches (“mats”) than does Rubus flagellaris, which has a longer and more “stringy” look. The stems/canes are not as heavily armored as are those of that species, as they contain mainly quite slender prickles or bristles.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has many very old synonyms, as seems to be true for nearly all Rubus species. No varieties seem to be currently in use.

Other Common Name(s)Bristly Dewberry is frequently used; also, Bristly Groundberry, Hispid Swamp Blackberry, Running Swamp Blackberry
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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