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Raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries are common, widely distributed members of the genus. Most of these plants have woody stems with prickles like roses; spines, bristles, and gland-tipped hairs are also common in the genus. The Rubus fruit, sometimes called a bramble fruit, is an aggregate of drupelets. The term "cane fruit" (or "cane-fruit") applies to any Rubus species or hybrid which is commonly grown with supports such as wires or canes, including raspberries, blackberries, and hybrids such as loganberry, boysenberry, marionberry and tayberry.
The blackberries, as well as various other Rubus species with mounding or rambling growth habits, are often called brambles. However, this name is not used for those like the raspberry that grow as upright canes, or for trailing or prostrate species, such as most dewberries, or various low-growing boreal, arctic, or alpine species.
The scientific study of brambles is known as "batology".
Examples of the hundreds of species of Rubus include:
The British National Collection of Rubus is held by Barry Clark at Houghton, Hampshire. His collection stands at over 200 species and, although not within the scope of the National Collection, he also grows many cultivars.
The term "hybrid berry" is often used collectively for those fruits in the genus Rubus which have been developed mainly in the USA and UK in the last 130 years. As Rubus species readily interbreed and are apomicts (able to set seed without fertilisation), the parentage of these plants is often highly complex, but is generally agreed to include cultivars of blackberries, (Rubus ursinus, R. fruticosus) and raspberries (R. idaeus).
The hybrid berries include:-
The genus Rubus is a very complex one, particularly the blackberry/dewberry subgenus (Rubus), with polyploidy, hybridization, and facultative apomixis apparently all frequently occurring, making species classification of the great variation in the subgenus one of the grand challenges of systematic botany.
Rubus species have a basic chromosome number of seven. Polyploidy from the diploid (14 chromosomes) to the tetradecaploid (98 chromosomes) is exhibited.
Some treatments have recognized dozens of species each for what other, comparably qualified botanists have considered single, more variable species. On the other hand, species in the other Rubus subgenera (such as the raspberries) are generally distinct, or else involved in more routine one-or-a-few taxonomic debates, such as whether the European and American red raspberries are better treated as one species or two. (In this case, the two-species view is followed here, with Rubus idaeus and R. strigosus both recognized; if these species are combined, then the older name R. idaeus has priority for the broader species.)
Molecular data have backed up classifications based on geography and chromosome number, but following morphological data, such as the structure of the leaves and stems, do not appear to produce a phylogenetic classification.
The classification presented below recognizes 13 subgenera within Rubus, with the largest subgenus (Rubus) in turn divided into 12 sections. Representative examples are presented, but many more species are not mentioned here.
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