Rubus Hampshire winteri – Series Discolores

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This distinctive bramble occurs in hedgerows and scrub on chalk soils in south-east Hampshire but may be more widespread. The bramble expert David Allen has determined it as Rubus winteri, but the plants photographed here do not match the description in Brambles of the British Isles nor specimens from the South London Botanical Institute shown on the BSBI Herbarium at Home web site. For the time being I have called this Hampshire winteri and would be very interested to hear from anyone that has recorded it in the UK or overseas. What may be the same plant has also been recorded by David Allen to the north and west of Winchester in Hampshire, and he notes in the 1996 Flora of Hampshire that it also occurs in Wiltshire. The true? winteri described in Brambles of the British Isles is scattered over the English Midlands.

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The first thing to notice about this bramble are the long horizontal or pendent panicles which have a non-leafy narrowly triangular portion about 20-30cm in length. The floral branches are short, stout and widely divergent. Longer branches arise from the base of the panicle. The rachis and branches are densely pubescent without any glands. The leaves at the base of the panicle have 1-3 narrow leaflets, which are white-felted beneath.

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Flowers are large and showy, about 3cm across with broad pink petals up to 16 x 13mm. The petals are brighter pink in bud and on freshly opened flowers, but fade to pale pink. They are often crumpled and have an irregular margin. The stamens are comparitively long, sometimes pale pink at the base and either glabrous or sometimes with a few hairs on the anthers. The sepals are broadly triangular, reflexed and concave inside with medium long points, pubescent, often reddening inside at the base as the fruit begins to develop. Styles are pale yellow or green. The receptacle is hairy and the carpels pilose.

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Leaves are yellow-green to mid green in colour with five leaflets. They have compoundly serrate leaflets with undulating margins giving a strongly crisped appearance. An interesting feature is the curved, stiffened main vein which gives them a distinctive humped appearance, especially noticeable on the terminal leaflet. The shape of the terminal leaflet varies from narrowly oblong (with parallel sides) to more broadly obovate. There is a long cuspidate-acuminate apex and the base is entire to slightly indented.

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Younger leaves on near-prostrate stems growing on chalk grassland have much narrower and flatter leaflets, but still with the distinctive crisped margins.

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Leaflets are white-felted or whitish-green felted below, confirming that this plant belongs in series Discolores.

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Stems are moderately slender, sharply or bluntly angled, usually becoming dark purple in colour, though often with a speckled appearance. They have numerous to dense coarse whitish hairs which may be very obvious on older stems. The prickles are long-based, quite stout, usually strongly declining and curved or sometimes slightly declining and nearly straight, coloured purple with a yellow point. They can be quite sparse along the stems or moderately crowded.

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