Rubus leyanus – Series Anisacanthi

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This species has a widespread but patchy distribution over most of southern Britain, but is a species on the increase, which can turn up almost anywhere. Historically its core range seems to have been across south Wales and south-west England, but it has recently proved to be widespread in parts of north Wales, Lancashire and north Norfolk where brambles have been more diligently recorded. It has also been found in northern France. It is often encountered as single plants or small patches, but once established it can dominate large areas, and seems to be a strongly competitive species. It has distinctive flowers, leaves and stems and is an easy species to recognise.


Panicles (above and below) have large simple leaves under the inflorescence and trifoliate leaves below. The leaflets have long acuminate tips. The rachis is pubescent with short-stalked glands and fine prickles. Flowers are about 2.5-3cm across with long, narrow obovate pale pink or almost white petals. They often have a shallow notch at the tip. The petals are widely separated when fully open and expose the sepals between, which are patent with long, fine points. The stamens are much longer than the styles, which are usually yellow but as one of the photos below shows, may turn reddish at the base.

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Leaves have 3 or 5 leaflets which have well marked secondary veins. The terminal leaflet is relatively large, 11cm or more long, with a long, acuminate tip. It is broadly elliptical in shape but may be widest just below or just above the middle. The leaflets are somewhat concave and gently curve over.

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Leaflets are yellowish or greyish-felted below.

leyanus leyanus

Stems are roundish to angled, green or tinged brown. The slender, patent or angled yellow prickles often contrast with the stem or may be concolorous. They are variable in size and occur all round the stem, on faces and angles, with those on the angles only slightly longer than the others. The majority of the prickles are much shorter than the stem diameter. Short stalked glands and short hairs may be sparse or numerous. Note also the presence of abundant sessile glands.

leyanus leyanus

Stems may be robust, nearly glabrous and shining.