Himalayan Blackberry

Identification & Biology
Alias' : Himalaya Blackberry
Latin Name : Rubus armeniacus
Category : Terrestrial Plants
Description :
  • Mostly biennial, trailing evergreen woody shrub that can grow up to 5 m tall 
  • Vegetative stems arch, then droop and trail along the ground  
  • Stems (canes) are robust, can grow up to 12 m long and have large prickles 
  • Leaves are dark green and oblong shaped 
  • Flowers are white to pink and are arranged in clusters 
  • Flowers have five petals that are white to rose coloured  
  • Berries are black, shiny and hairless 


Himalayan blackberry reproduces vegetatively and also by seed. Flowers can produce seeds with and without fertilization. It can vegetatively reproduce by re-sprouting root-stalks, rooting stem tips and from root and stem fragments. Plants grow into impenetrable thickets. 

Wild red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is native to the Okanagan region. It has small white flowers in spring and produces delicious red berries in late summer. Trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is a native species of blackberry that is smaller and grows along the ground. It has narrow prickly stems instead of stout, ridged canes and has only three narrower leaflets instead of five rounded leaflets like Himalayan blackberry. In British Columbia trailing blackberry grows on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the lower Fraser River Canyon and at several sites in the Kootenays. 

Look Alikes

Himalayan blackberry is native to areas of Europe and Asia. Currently, Himalayan blackberry is the most common invasive blackberry species in British Columbia. It has spread in the Lower Mainland and coastal regions of BC as well as in the Okanagan and the West Kootenays. It may establish on a variety of sites, but it prefers moist, well-drained soils. It invades disturbed sites such as roadsides, railroad tracks, logged lands, field margins and alongside creeks and lakeshores. In semi-arid locations, such as the South Okanagan, Himalayan blackberry is restricted to riparian zones or sites with year-round ground water. 

Impact & Risks
  • Himalayan blackberry displaces native riparian shrubs by shading and outcompeting them for space, light and nutrients 
  • It is considered the most invasive non-native shrub on the west coast of North America, where it forms large thickets, displaces native plants, inhibits wildlife movement and impedes access to water
Prevention & Mitigation

Preventing Himalayan blackberry invasion is the most economically and ecologically effective management strategy. 

  • Do not purchase, trade, or grow Himalayan blackberry
  • Regularly patrol your property for Himalayan blackberry plants and immediately control or remove infestations before seed set
  • Take special care when controlling Himalayan blackberry near streams or ditch lines to prevent the movement of plant parts downstream  
  • Cooperate with adjacent landowners and encourage them to prevent Himalayan blackberry spread
  • Immediately re-vegetate disturbed, bare soils with a suitable seed mixture that provides dense, early colonization to prevent invasion 
Treatment & Disposal
  • Persistent tilling or cutting in combination with mowing can be effective; this method is most effective if followed up with spot applications of herbicide or removal of entire root system
  • If plants are cut, all plant material must be collected in bags and disposed of at a landfill
  • Digging out the entire rootstock can reduce Himalayan blackberry abundance
  • Domestic sheep, domestic goats, cattle, or horses can help control Himalayan blackberry by browsing or trampling; livestock are particularly useful in removing sprouts after stem removal treatments
  • Chemical control is also an option; before applying herbicide, read the label thoroughly to understand how to use safely and effectively
  • For further information on the selection and application of chemicals to protect your crop, contact Agri Service BC at 1-888-221-7141 or email AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca
Okanagan Distribution

Priority Level Definitions

Watch For - Poses a significant threat (very high risk) and does NOT presently occur in the region OR is relatively new to the region and is very limited in extent.
High - High risk/impact; limited population with significant potential to spread in the region.
Medium - Medium risk/impact; limited distribution – broader population distribution with potential to spread further in a region.
Low - Low risk/impact; may be widespread or not, may be of concern in specific situations with certain high values – e.g. specific agriculture crops. Some species may be treated primarily with biological control agents.