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This native perennial shrub in the Rose family has branching, woody vines and arching to trailing stems up to 8' long. It features loose racemes of white flowers in spring and purple, blackberry-like fruits that are an important summer food source for birds. Also known as swamp dewberry, this groundcover prefers moist to wet conditions and dappled sunlight or part shade. While it performs better in acidic or sandy soils, it adapts to heavier soils. It has both male and female flowers that are pollinated primarily by bees. The bristly stems (hispidus means "bristly" and another common name is bristly dewberry) that touch the ground can root at the tips to form new plants. 


It's commonly found in wetland areas, disturbed habitats, forest edges, meadows, fields, and swamps. Perfect for naturalized areas, banks of ponds, woodlands, and edible or native gardens.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows up to 8" tall and 8' long. 


Grows best in dappled sunlight or part shade. Tolerates full sun and full shade.


Prefers rich or sandy, moist, acidic soils. Adapts to clay and avaerage soils. Tolerates occasionally wet soils.


Flowers bloom April to June. Each white flower is about 3/4" wide with 5 softly hairy petals, 5 light green sepals united at the base, numerous stamens, and a light green compound pistil at its center. Blooms from April to June. Fruits are clusters of small drupelets that contain one seed each. Color changes from green to red to purple or black when ripe.


Alternate, three-parted (trifoliate) compound leaves have 3 or occasionaly 5 leaflets. Leaflets are 1-2" long, ovate shaped, and coarsely toothed along the middle to upper margins. The upper leaflet surface is medium green, hairless, and somewhat shiny, while the lower surface is more pale and sometimes softly hairy.


Bristly, light green to reddish stems are round or angular.


Wildlife Value:

Host plant for 146 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including two specialists (lettered habrosyne and scythris basilaris), cecropia silkmoth, and Io moth. Visited primarily by short- and long-tongued bees, including little carpenter, mason, and halictid bees. Syrphid flies, bee flies, small butterflies, and skippers also visit for nectar and pollen. The fruits are eaten by upland game birds and many song birds. The dense foliage and canes provide nesting habitat for birds and protective cover for various species of wildlife.  Deer browse the foliage and stems.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans used the roots to treat cough, fever, and diarrhea. The fruits were used to treat dysentery ( 


The sour berries are sometimes used to make preserves.

Dewberry, Rubus hispidus

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