White blackberry (Rubus niveus)

Also known as: Mysore raspberry

White blackberry is a prickly scrambling shrub with dark coloured berries and white stems. It forms thickets that can prevent other plants from growing.

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How does this weed affect you?

White blackberry is fast-growing and very invasive. It:

  • forms dense thickets
  • smothers and kills other plants
  • invades forests and other natural areas
  • can injure people and animals
  • makes movement difficult for people and animals
  • reduces agricultural production.

What does it look like?

White blackberry is a perennial shrub with arching stems that climb to 2 m tall. Stems become tangled and can form prickly thickets. It usually flowers in spring and summer.

Leaves

The leaves are made up of 5 - 9 (sometimes 11) smaller leaflets. The leaflets are in opposite pairs with one bigger leaflet on the end. Leaflets are:

  • dark green on top
  • white to pale green and with fine hairs underneath
  • 25-80 mm long and 10-50 mm wide
  • prominently veined
  • serrated along the edges.

Flowers are:

  • 12.5 mm wide with 5 petals 4-5 mm long
  • red or bright pink
  • in clusters at the end of stems.

Fruit are:

  • berries
  • 10 - 20 mm wide
  • round to oblong
  • covered in short white hairs
  • firstly green, then ripen to purply-black.

Seeds are:

  • 1.0-1.5 mm wide
  • numerous, usually about 180 per berry
  • covered in a hard coat.

Stems are:

  • flexible growing to 2 m long
  • climbing or arching
  • covered in a whitish, powdery coating 
  • covered in sharp prickles 3-7 mm long
  • usually round.

There are two types of stems (also called canes):

  • in the first year primocanes grow straight out of the root crown
  • floricanes usually branch from the primocane and they produce the flowers and fruit in the spring of the second year of growth.

Primocanes usually die back in the second year, after they have grown floricanes. 

Roots

The root system has:

  • a woody ‘crown’
  • a main root that can grow down to 2 m
  • smaller roots that grow horizontally out from the crown

Where is it found?

White blackberry is present on the North Coast of NSW. It has been found from Karangi to Coffs Harbour and around Mullumbimby.

It is also a weed in Queensland, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. It was first introduced to Australia for the large amounts of fruit it produces.

It is native to India, China and Southeast Asia. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Plants grow best in well drained soil but it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, soil types and rainfall. However, it is not drought tolerant. In very cold climates plants may die in winter re-sprouting in spring. White blackberry grows:

  • in bushland and grasslands
  • along waterways
  • in gardens
  • along fence lines
  • in disturbed areas such as roadsides
  • on agricultural land.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of White blackberry during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2020)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

By seeds

Birds and other animals eat the fruit and spread the seeds. On average each berry produces 180 seeds. They can stay viable in the soil for up to 10 years. Seedlings are able to grow even in shady situations. 

By plant parts

When primocanes touch the ground, they can send out roots and become new plants. These plants are called ‘daughter plants’ which, in turn, can also make new ‘daughter plants’.

Plants can also re-grow from roots.

More information

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Control

White blackberry can be controlled by hand pulling, grazing and herbicides. Generally, no single control option used on its own will succeed. Best results will use a combination of methods.  The key is to follow up any control work to make sure the plant has not regrown. This is particularly the case for larger infestations.

Grazing

Goats have been used to manage blackberry infestations. Once the goats are removed follow-up monitoring and control will be needed. Goats can move seeds via their droppings. Holding goats in a paddock that can be easily inspected for weeds can help prevent moving weeds to a new area.

Physical removal

Hand pull or dig out seedlings and small plants. Be careful to avoid injuries from prickles. It is important to remove all of the roots to stop plants regrowing.

Slashing

Use slashing to get access when infestations are very dense. It should be followed up with herbicide control. Slashing is expensive and will not kill the weed if it is the only method used.  Irregular slashing strengthens the root system, which then requires more herbicide to kill the plants. Slashing can stimulate new growth, which will make the infestation thicker.

Chemical control

Spot spraying and cut stump methods are effective. The best time to spray is when it is actively growing. The cut stump method is best when the plants are sparse and you can easily access the base of the plant without injuries from the thorns.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 2L of Glyphosate plus 15 g of Brush-off in 100 L of water
Comments: Spot spray application, plus add a wetter.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application. Apply a 3-5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply a 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Greater Sydney Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Hunter Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
North Coast Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2020