Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, late spring, early summer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching, Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Native geographic location and habitat:

Black raspberry is native throughout the Midwest and eastern United States. C-Value: 2

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. Canes lack terminal buds and 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. The three to five leaflets have serrated margins. Petioles have small prickles. Leaf color is two-toned; light green above, and paler (nearly white) below.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The flower has five petals which are short, 1/2 inch long, and greenish-white. Black raspberry flowers appear in late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is juicy, red turning to black, multiple of drupes that are 1/2 inch across and ripen in mid summer. When black raspberries are picked they separate from the fleshy core forming a hollow shell.

Plant care:

The arching canes of black raspberry may reach 3 to 5 feet high, which often form dense tangled thickets. Black raspberry does best in neutral to lightly acidic soils in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist well-drained soil.

List of pests and diseases:

Mildew, rusts, deer, wet soil, and salt can all be problems for this plant. Black raspberry is tolerant of black walnut toxicity, heat, and drought.


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