Monday, 4 January 2021

Bramble seedlings and Raspberry Seedlings - Part II!

 A few weeks back, I answered a question from June ("Hi June!") about how to tell the difference between Bramble seedlings, and Raspberry seedlings.

I promised to update the post, once I'd found photos of the two plants at this early stage, in order to show the difference.

To remind you, we are not talking about Bramble/Blackberry rooted tips:

These - left - are what happens when stout Blackberry/Bramble (same thing, Rubus fruticosus) shoots reach the earth, and form roots, in a process which is called Tip layering, and which is one way that Brambles spread themselves so widely. 

 The other method of propagation for Blackberries is to grow from seed, and that is what June was struggling to identify.

She needed to know the difference between young Blackberry plants, and young Raspberry plants.

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so this:

- right - is a genuine Bramble seedling.

It will have grown from seed - what you and I would call a "pip".

 I am holding it against my inch-marked blackboard, so you can see that it's only a few inches high: it is thin and spindly, it has more than one stem, they are what you might call "lax" ie a bit floppy.

Oh, I should clarify, I am holding it just above what was ground level, and there is a leaf growing out just where my thumb lies. So, below my thumb is the root, and you can see how thin it is.

Above my thumb is the main stem, which then immediately branches, so there are two wiry, prickly stems, each with leaves springing from it.

Here's  a closer look - check out those stems, they are covered in individual prickles.

You may call them thorns or spines if you wish - technically, botanically, they are prickles, but I won't distract you with that one!

So, lots of prickles, making it very uncomfortable to hold, despite it being only a small plants.

 The leaves are on short stalks, which are also covered in prickles, and you can see that these juvenile leaves are softly rounded - "lobed" is the technical term, and the lobes are not pointed, they are rounded.

"Young" raspberries, on the other hand, occur from root suckers: as per the other article, I have not yet knowingly found a Raspberry (Rubus idaeobatus) seedling, despite the huge number of pips which they produce, and which the birds fling around all over my garden - you'd think I would be knee deep in Raspberry seedlings by now, but I have yet to find a single one.

And Raspberry root suckers look like this:

This one is the same size as the Bramble seedling above, but look at how stout it is.

Look at the way it springs from the ground - not a thin, spindly stem, but a strong, stout, single, upright stem.

This is a reflection of it being a root sucker, rather than a seedling grown from a pip: it has a substantial root system already in place, so the new growth can be strong and vigorous.

Most of the leaves are in a tuft at the top: and you can see here, that they are divided into usually three leaflets (rather than being lobed) and the leaflets tend towards the pointed, rather than the rounded. I would also say that the leaves are usually a fresh, bright green, compared to the rather dull, matte green of the bramble: and these young leaves are very strongly pleated or folded: they look as though they need ironing.

In close-up (not sure how clearly you will be able to see this, it's not the best of photos!), the stem has a reddish cast: this is caused by the bristles

The prickles themselves are  small and fine, rather than large individual things as per the Bramble.

It still hurts to pull them up without gloves on, but Raspberry are nowhere near as unpleasant as Brambles.

So, there you go, the difference between young Brambles - spindly, skinny, congested, rounded leaves, vicious individual prickles: and young Raspberries - stout single stem, reddish haze of small bristles, pointed leaves, held in distinctly three-lobed leaves.

 You'll know the difference as soon as you pull them up - as per the other post - but I hope that this article helps you to see the differences, before you get to the pulling-up stage.

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