Rubus (PROSEA Fruits)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Rubus L.

Protologue: Sp. Pl. 1: 492 (1753); Gen. Pl.: 864 (1754).
Family: Rosaceae
Chromosome number: x= 7

Major species and synonyms

  • Rubus niveus Thunb., Diss. Rubo: 9, fig. 3 (1813), synonym: R. lasiocarpus J.E. Smith (1815), subgenus Idaeobatus;
  • Rubus pectinellus Maxim., Mél. Biol. Acad. St. Pétersb. 8: 374 (1872), subgenus Chamaebatus;
  • Rubus rosifolius J.E. Smith, Pl. Icon. Hact. Ined. 3: t. 60 (1791), subgenus Idaeobatus.

Vernacular names


  • blackberry, raspberry (En)
  • Mûron, framboise (Fr).

R. chrysophyllus :

  • Indonesia: kupi-kupi, pingat (Sumatra), grunggung kepok (Java).

R. fraxinifolius :

  • Indonesia: beberetean (Sundanese), kecalingan (Java), jalanggara (Moluccas)
  • Malaysia: ragimot (Sabah)
  • Papua New Guinea: pising (Bougainville)
  • Philippines: pinit (Ifugao), balinana (Mangalay)
  • Vietnam: cây tu lui.

R. megacarpus Papua New Guinea: bilkanamail.

R. niveus :

  • Indonesia: kala kucet (Java), conco poco (Flores), sakanati nono (Timor)
  • Philippines: pilai (Tagalog)
  • Laos: mak thou
  • Vietnam: ngây tuyêt.

R. pectinellus :

  • Philippines: apukid (Bontok), bagalbalan (Bagobo), bana (Igorot).

R. rosifolius :

  • Indonesia: bereretean (Java), gunggung (Bali), sabit (Kalimantan)
  • Philippines: init (Iloko), lagiauat (Lanao), ragini (Bikol)
  • Vietnam: ngáy hong.

Origin and geographic distribution

This large, almost cosmopolitan genus has about 50 native species in South-East Asia and Australia.

  • R. chrysophyllus occurs in Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Lombok).
  • R. fraxinifolius occurs in Indonesia (not in Sumatra), Malaysia (Sabah), the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
  • R. megacarpus is only known from Mount Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea.
  • R. niveus is widely distributed in the Himalayan region, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi) and the Philippines (Luzon). It is introduced and naturalized in Peninsular Malaysia and in southern and East Africa. It is cultivated in the United States (Florida: Mysore raspberry).
  • R. pectinellus occurs in southern China, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.
  • R. rosifolius occurs in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malesia (not in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra) and in Australia. It is introduced and naturalized in Africa and in parts of America.


Some species provide table fruits and fruits for jams and conserves in many temperate countries. In South-East Asia they are only locally grown for that purpose. The fruits are also locally collected from the wild as a luxury food. The pulp of some species (e.g. R. niveus) is considered a good local source of sugars. R. chrysophyllus is considered the choicest species of Indonesia, R. pectinellus of the Philippines. The fruits of R. fraxinifolius, R. megacarpus and R. rosifolius are sweet but without much taste. For several common species, local medicinal uses of roots and leaves are reported against dysentery, cough and thrush, fever, urinary troubles and abdominal pains.


Most species are climbing or sprawling shrubs with spiny stems and leaves. Leaves are simple or compound (palmate, pinnate or trifoliolate). Inflorescences are mostly paniculate, at the end of axillary leafy branches of determinate growth and terminating in a flower; flowers are regularly 5-merous; sepals are free and persist under the fruits; petals are free and usually white; stamens and pistils are numerous, the latter on an elevated torus. Many 1-seeded more or less juicy drupes stick together to form a collective fruit; they usually fall as a whole, either together with the dried torus (blackberry-like) or without (the collective fruit hollow and raspberry-like).

R. chrysophyllus is a very large plant with branches up to 10 m long and yellow to orange fruits. R. fraxinifolius is a large plant (up to 3 m) and has rich inflorescences; the fruits are red. R. megacarpus has very large, purplish, juicy fruits, about 5 cm × 3 cm, but few in number. R. niveus has up to 3.5 m long branches and is pink-flowered; the fruits are dark red to almost black. R. pectinellus is a creeper with wiry stems, bearing orange to red fruit. R. rosifolius resembles R. idaeus L., the European raspberry. The fruits are red and not very juicy.


Most species from tropical South-East Asia grow at higher altitudes, generally above 1000 m. They are typically plants of open sunny places, sometimes in light shade. Consequently, they are common in man-made habitats: roadsides, burnt grassland and shrubberies. Altitudinal ranges for the different species are: R. chrysophyllus 1000-3000 m, R. fraxinifolius 0-2500 m, R. megacarpus 3500-3750 m, R. niveus 1000-3000 m, R. pectinellus 750-2750 m, R. rosifolius 0-2000 m.

Propagation and planting

Vegetative propagation is by root suckers (stolons).


R. rosifolius is sometimes grown as an ornamental and is obviously suitable for cultivation. It might perhaps be improved. It has yet to be established whether hybridization between R. rosifolius and R. idaeus is possible in order to improve the juiciness and taste of the rather insipid fruits. Some other species (e.g. R. chrysophyllus) are also interesting, but it may not be easy to control the rampant growth.


  • Kalkman, C., 1984. The genus Rubus (Rosaceae) in Malesia. 2. The subgenus Malachobatus. Blumea 29: 319-386.
  • Kalkman, C., 1987. The genus Rubus (Rosaceae) in Malesia. 3. The subgenus Micranthobatus. Blumea 32: 323-341.
  • Zandee, M. & Kalkman, C., 1981. The genus Rubus (Rosaceae) in Malesia. 1. Subgenera Chamaebatus and Idaeobatus. Blumea 27: 75-113.


C. Kalkman