Common Name: Groundcover Raspberries
- Rubus nepalensis (Nepalese Raspberries)
- Rubus pentalobus/rolfei/calycinoides (Creeping Bramble)
- Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble/Groundcover Raspberry)
Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)
I consider any of the low-growing, shade tolerant Rubus species to be Groundcover Raspberries. They come from around the world, and they all produce raspberry-like fruit. They tolerate light to medium foot traffic well. They are great nectar plants for beneficial insects, especially honeybees. These plants are growing quickly in popularity as more and more people hear about them, and they will be a major groundcover species in my Forest Garden.
USING THIS PLANT
- Fresh eating – just like small raspberries
- Preserves (jams, jellies)
- General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
- Wildlife food, especially birds, in Summer
- Leaves make a mild tea
- Frozen fresh
Yield: This is a ground cover plant which means that many individual plants are used in a single planting area, and as such there are no good yield numbers recorded; however, yields are not very high.
Harvesting: Summer (July-September)
Storage: Use fresh. Can be frozen (individually on a cookie sheet is best, then stored in a freeze bag). Can be dehydrated. Use within a few days at most.
DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-7
AHS Heat Zone: None recorded
Chill Requirement: None recorded, but likely produces better with some chilling.
Plant Type: Small Perennial Shrub
Leaf Type: Evergreen
Forest Garden Use: Groundcover
Cultivars/Varieties: A number of species and varieties available
Pollination: Some are Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile but most will only produce with cross-pollination from another or similar plans
Flowering: June-August depending on the species and latitude
Years to Begin Bearing: 1-2 years
Years to Maximum Bearing: 2-3 years
Years of Useful Life: 6-10 years
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
- Rubus nepalensis (Nepalese Raspberries) – 1 foot (0.3 meter) high and widely spreading
- Rubus pentalobus/rolfei/calycinoides (Creeping Bramble) – 4 inches (0.1 meter) high and widely spreading
- Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble/Groundcover Raspberry) – 2 feet (0.6 meter) tall and widely spreading
Roots: Shallow and flat, suckering roots – widely spreading
Growth Rate: Medium to Fast
GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Prefers full sun to light shade
Shade: Tolerates light to full shade
Moisture: Medium (Rubus tricolor Chinese Bramble, is quite drought tolerant, but it yields less)
pH: most species prefer fairly neutral soil (6.1 – 7.0), but can handle a wide variety
Special Considerations for Growing:
These are rather vigorous plants. They tolerate light to medium foot traffic. Some areas can become weedy, so it makes sense to grow other goundcover plants with groundcover raspberries (Mint is a great choice).
Rubus pentalobus/rolfei/calycinoides (Creeping Bramble) – space plantings 1-3 feet apart
Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble/Groundcover Raspberry) – space plantings 3-5 feet apart
Usually by detaching rooting stems… meaning that as taller stems grow up tall, they will eventually bend over and touch the ground. When this happens, these stems will take root. The bent over stem can be cut when roots have formed, and another individual plant is ready to replant to another location. These plants can be easily layered into pots by pinning taller stems into a small pot of soil.
Plants can propagate through seeds, but need some cold stratification.
Minimal. Occasional weeding may be necessary. May need to cut back, or mow back, when it grows into areas that we don’t want it to grow… this is not a matter of if, but when.
May be slowly and locally invasive if not kept in check… regular mowing on paths works quite well.