Rubus questieri – Series Sylvatici

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A tall, robust bramble with rose-pink flowers, nearly glabrous stems and narrow terminal leaflets. It is widespread in SW England, reaching the New Forest and Southampton area in Hampshire, extending across the Channel to northern France and with an outlying area of occurrence centred on South Lancashire and Cheshire.

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This species normally grows in open situations in scrub and heathland habitats. Bushes have distinctive ascending panicles which are quite narrow in outline with a long, leafy section topped by a moderately compact cluster of eye-catching pink flowers with obvious red styles. Long sections of the rachis are visible between the leaves. Flowers lower down the panicle tend to be on relatively short ascending penducles. Bushes can exceed 1.8 metres in height and the panicles can reach more than 2 metres.

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The rachis is flexuose, becoming reddish brown, pubescent with frequent long-based curved or declining stout prickles. Although this is quite a typical member of the Sylvatici, it does sometimes have very short-stalked glands on the rachis and floral branches.

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Flowers are c.2.5cm across with broadly elliptical, usually notched petals, c.12-13 x 8-9mm. These are rose-pink in bud and in newly-opened flowers, but often fade paler in full sun. The red styles are greenish yellow with pinkish bases or nearly all dark pink. The stamens are slightly longer than the styles, anthers are glabrous, carpels glabrous and the receptacle thinly hairy. Sepals are long pointed, sometimes leafy-tipped, strongly pubescent and whitish in colour, and sometimes have a few small acicles. They are reflexed to patent at flowering.

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Two examples of sun-bleached flowers, but still showing the pinkish styles. Note also the relative length of the stamens and styles and the rather thinly arranged stamens of variable length which are also widely divergent, so as to hardly obscure the styles.

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Leaves have 3-5 leaflets which are glabrous above, light green in colour and with distinctive bronzy patches between the veins, especially when young. The terminal leaflet is about twice as long as wide, elliptical to obovate, c.9 x 4.5cm, with a long acuminate apex and an entire or emarginate base. It tends to curl down slightly giving a convex appearance.

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A leaf with a terminal leaflet broader than normal:

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Leaflets are paler green below and not usually strongly pubescent, but young leaflets and those in the panicle may be somewhat grey-felted.

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The stem is glabrescent (thinly hairy when young), green becoming reddish brown, relatively sharply angled and furrowed. Prickles have long, laterally compressed red bases with yellow points. They may be slightly shorter than the stem diameter, to much longer on thinner stems.

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