General: Himalayan Blackberry is a mostly biennial bramble, mostly recognizable by its prickly stems and edible black berries.
Flowers: Blackberry flowers are white to pinkish, and consist of 5 stalked petals. They are approximately 2.5cm in diameter, and flowers are arranged in clusters of 5 to 20. The flower stalks are woolly and prickly.
Stem: Canes are thick with sharp, stiff prickles that can be green or red. Stems are strongly angled and furrowed, with curved prickles 6-10mm long.
Leaves: Leaflets are egg-shaped leaflets with sharp and pointy tips; they are generally grouped into clusters of 5 on the first year canes, and groups of 3 on the flowering, second-year canes. Leaves are grey and woolly on the underside.
Roots: Himalayan Blackberry has an extensive root system of inter-connected roots that can exceed 10m in length and 1m in depth.
Fruit: Himalayan Blackberry plants produce black, shiny, hairless, edible berries. Unripe berries are green.
Black Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis) is sometimes confused with Himalayan Blackberry. However, it is native to BC and can be recognized by the white residue on its stems (canes).
Trailing Blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is the only native Blackberry to British Columbia. It is a low, trailing plant with leaves divided into 3 distinct leaflets that are 15 cm long, dark green on both sides and toothed. Flowers are white or pink and are 2.5 cm wide. Trailing Blackberry produces small blackberries and can be found growing in disturbed sites and dry, open forests at low to mid elevations, making them prevalent on Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.
Cutleaf Blackberry (Rubus laciniatus) is invasive in British Columbia and can be found throughout the Sea to Sky Region, though it’s not as common as Himalayan Blackberry. Its leaves are medium to dark green, have hairy undersides, and are made up of 5 leaflets that are deeply divided and look lobed with toothy margins.
Habitat and Origin
Most sources claim that Himalayan Blackberry is native to Armenia and potentially Northern Iran, while other sources state that it originates from Western Europe. Regardless, it was likely introduced to North America in 1885 for use as a cultivated crop.
Himalayan Blackberry can be found at low elevations in clearings, disturbed sites, roadside stream banks, wastelands, pastures, forest plantations, and fence lines. It can colonize a variety of disturbed sites and live in a range of conditions.
Propagation & Vectors of Spread
Himalayan Blackberry reproduces by seed, but it can also spread by rooting from stem cuttings, root pieces, root crowns, or from cane tips (or nodes along the canes) touching the ground. Birds and mammals that eat the fruit disperse the seeds when they move to new locations.
Ecological and Economic Impacts
- Outcompetes native plants
- Reduces flora diversity through shading
- Can hinder the growth of shade-tolerant tree species
- Infests stream channels and banks
- Restricts the access of wildlife to water bodies
- Degrades pastures
- Increases the likelihood of erosion along banks.
- Reduces land value
- Limits recreational access to water bodies
- Reduces sight lines along infrastructure.
What Can I Do?
Himalayan Blackberry is found throughout the Sea to Sky Region, so CONTROL and ERADICATION are key.
Learn to identify Himalayan Blackberry: use the images presented in this profile page to learn how to identify it.
What to do if you spot it: You can report any Himalayan Blackberry sighting by clicking here.
- Regularly monitor properties (since it is identifiable throughout the year) and remove Himalayan Blackberry if you spot it
- Ensure soil, gravel, and fill material is uncontaminated before transport
- Remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles or clothing used in loading, parking or storage areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas
- Minimize soil disturbances (e.g., using grazing plants that prevent soil exposure from overgrazing), and use seed mixes with dense, early colonization (e.g., alfalfa or barley) to re-vegetate exposed soil and resist invasion.
- Ensure plant fragments or parts are bagged or covered to prevent spread during transport to designated disposal sites (e.g., landfill)
- Plant Himalayan Blackberry
- Unload, park, or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas
- Place fruit material in the compost
Because of its food value, SSISC’s approach is to only use mechanical methods to control invasive Himalayan Blackberry, except at a handful of special case sites, which are not accessible to the public.
The roots of the plant must be removed by hand or by using an excavator, and the canes must be pulled out of the ground before berries are produced. The biomass of the plant can be reduced by mowing frequently throughout the year. Grazing by goats has proven effective, and chickens can remove the seeds from an area.
If recommended, any use of herbicides must be applied by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.
The integration of mechanical control methods with either the chemical treatment of stumps or follow-up herbicide application offers the most success.
- Centre for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, Controlling Himalayan Blackberry in the Pacific Northwest, https://www.invasive.org/gist/moredocs/rubarm01.pdf
- Invasive Species Council of BC, Himalayan Blackberry TIPS Factsheet, https://bcinvasives.ca/documents/Himalayan_Blackberry_TIPS_Final_08_06_2014.pdf
- King County, Himalayan Blackberry Identification and Control, https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/environment/animals-and-plants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification/blackberry.aspx
- Metro Vancouver and Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, Best Management Practices for Himalayan Blackberry in the Metro Vancouver Region, http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/PlanningPublications/HimalayanBlackberryBMP.pdf
- Metro Vancouver and Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, Tackling Himalayan Blackberry, http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/PlanningPublications/HimalayanBlackberryFactSheet.pdf
- Thurston County, Integrated Pest Management Prescription for Himalayan Blackberry, https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehipm/pdf/8_16blackberry.pdf
- United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Field Guide for Managing Himalayan Blackberry in the Southwest, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3828954.pdf
- United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Himalayan Blackberry Plant Guide, https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_ruar9.pdf