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TREES & plants

Black raspberry

Fruit of black raspberry.

Black raspberry is a multi-stemmed, colony-forming shrub with white flowers, edible black fruits and colorful reddish stems in winter.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

Botanical name: 
Rubus occidentalis
All Common Names: 
black raspberry
Family (English): 
Rose
Family (Botanic): 
Rosaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area, 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Hedge, 
  • Massing
Size Range: 
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet), 
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)
Mature Height: 
3 to 6 feet high
Mature Width: 
6 to 12 feet wide
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily), 
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Commonly planted, 
  • Dangerous thorns, 
  • Excessive sucker growth, 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Summer blossoms, 
  • Fall color, 
  • Edible fruit, 
  • Showy fruit, 
  • Showy flowers, 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Arching, 
  • Multi-stemmed, 
  • Thicket-forming, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Arching canes may reach 3 to 5 feet high, often forming dense tangled thickets.
Best in neutral to lightly acidic soils in full sun to part shade.
Prefers moist well-drained soil.

Disease, pests, and problems

Mildew, rusts, deer, wet soil, and salt

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity, heat, and drought

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 2
Native throughout the Midwest and eastern U.S..

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Birds are attracted to fruits.

Bark color and texture 

New canes are purplish-red with an abundance of white glaucous bloom and hooked prickles.
No terminal bud, canes readily root at the tips when they contact the ground.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, palmately compound, 3 to 5 inches long and wide.
3 to 5 leaflets with serrated margins, small prickles on petiole
Two-toned, light green leaves above, and paler (nearly white) below.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

5 petaled, short, 1/2 inch small greenish white flowers appear in late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Juicy, red turning to black, multiple of drupes, 1/2 inch across, ripen in mid summer.
When picked they separate from the fleshy core forming a hollow shell.

Rubus occidentalis or Black raspberry

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.