Rubus pubescens (Dwarf Raspberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Dwarf Red Blackberry
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; stream banks, forest or shrub swamps, upland forest, open moist meadows
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:4 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flowers] 1 to 3 stalked flowers at tips of new stems and arising from upper leaf axils, typically white or occasionally light pink, 1/3 to ½ inch across, with 5 (occasionally 6 or 7) narrowly paddle-shaped petals that are mostly widest above the middle, erect and often curly. In the center is a short column of numerous erect stamens, the same color as the petals, surrounding a cluster of pistils.

[photo of glandular sepals and stalks] The 5 sepals are narrowly lance-triangular, shorter than the petals and strongly bent back (reflexed). Sepals and flower stalks are moderately to densely covered with fine, glandular hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate and compound with three leaflets (ternate). Leaflets are 1¼ to 3 inches long, ¾ to 2 inches wide, lance-elliptic, the center leaflet short-stalked and mostly diamond-shaped, the lateral leaflets stalkless, sometimes lobed, tapering to a pointed tip, the base wedge shaped to round, the compound leaf stalk hairy and ¾ to 3 inches long. Leaflet edges are usually double-toothed. The upper surface is sparsely hairy to smooth, lower surface hairy. At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules) that are ¼ to ½ inch long, generally elliptic, widest above or below the middle. Stems are herbaceous, developing from a woody crown or short 1-year-old vegetative stem, smooth to moderately hairy, and lack prickles or thorns of any kind. Flowering stems are mostly erect, up to 12 inches long; vegetative stems are slender runners along the ground to 8 feet long, often rooting at the nodes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is round cluster, ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, of fleshy druplets, turning red to dark red when mature, and tasty!


Dwarf Raspberry is fairly common throughout much of Minnesota in both forest and open meadow or shrub habitats. While its principal means of reproduction and spread is by its long vegetative runners that leave small rooted woody crowns at its nodes, and become the start for new plants the following year, you'll rarely if ever find it in dense colonies like many other Rubus species. Vegetative clumps might be mistaken for Wild Strawberry (Fragaria species), though raspberry leaves are more sharply pointed with double teeth. Also similar is the related Arctic Raspberry (Rubus arcticus), which has consistently pink to purplish flowers up to 1 inch across and smooth to sparsely hairy leaves and stems. The fruit is unmistakably a raspberry and, while never producing a heavy crop that can be harvested, the few scattered berries found here and there are pretty tasty.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Anoka, Hubbard, Lake and St. Louis counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jeanne P - Winton, MN
on: 2017-07-24 18:37:43

Interesting berry! Very different from raspberry

Posted by: Sue & Dave Betzler - SE corner of Dakota cnty, near Goodhue cnty
on: 2019-06-11 21:13:47

In 2013 we began restoring our woods to pre-settlement targets of UPs14 Southern Dry Savanna and FDs38 Southern Dry-Mesic Oak (Hickory) Woodland. In the Savanna area this year we've discovered what clearly appears to be Rubus pubescens, except it has very sharp, short, prickly spikes on the stems. Yet you say, "Stems are herbaceous, developing from a woody crown or short 1-year-old vegetative stem, smooth to moderately hairy, and lack prickles or thorns of any kind." What are we missing here? Can send photos if desired. Thanks!

Posted by: Lisa Gergets - Grand Marais
on: 2020-09-08 09:08:45

In May, we cleared a half acre for our home site. Since then, wild strawberry plants have proliferated, and I've seen a handful of these dwarf raspberry plants in and among them.

Posted by: Sherman H. - In and around Duluth
on: 2021-02-18 18:24:55

I was curious about the 2019-06-11 post by the Betzlers about the Rubus pubescens. I've seen hundreds of dwarf trailing Rubus pubescens plants in the Duluth area, and never saw thorns on any of them. I did some Google searching and found 2 other possible thorny, trailing Rubus species they might have found:

The most likely one is "Rubus multifer" - "Kinnickinnick dewberry" or "Fruitful Dewberry". Range maps show it in a few areas close to the Twin Cities. In Minnesota, Rubus multifer is listed as a State Special Concern species, where it is found in indigenous oak savanna environments.

The other species is the "Rubus hispidus L.": Swamp Dewberry, Creeping Dewberry or Bristly Blackberry. It's a trailing species partial to wet habitats, but grows occasionally in non-wetlands. The plant has spines, prickles, or thorns. It's very rare in Minnesota. Note: Rubus pubescens is also known as "red blackberry, dwarf red blackberry, dwarf red raspberry or dewberry.

Posted by: Gwendolyn Lappin - Wabedo Township
on: 2021-06-28 22:31:50

I have never seen these before. I found a very substantial plot. Just beautiful berries. I have walked this road for 19 years. It is a minimum maintenance road and we have drought conditions, but here in the shade I found these beautiful berries!

Posted by: Kathryn Wallentine - Chippewa National Forest
on: 2021-07-01 08:18:50

I have a 6 acre plot in the forest with back wooded area. I found a somewhat open area that is filled with the dwarf raspberry (dewberries). I had a hard time believing this could really be a raspberry as those ripen later in July. My curiosity got the best of me so I checked them out leaves of 3 like a raspberry but no thorns, I tried a few, maybe 4. The next 20 hours I had the worst stomach ache so I suggest not eating too many until your sure your system can tolerate them. Of course it is possible I had something else going on. Still as a forager be careful what you consume.

Posted by: gary - Carlton County
on: 2022-10-04 16:59:35

Common in my woods. I've seen ruffed grouse eating the berries.

Posted by: Karl - North Shore
on: 2023-08-15 23:46:41

We have a enormous amount of these in and alongside the woods, near Duluth. They do, in fact, form dense colonies. I harvested at least a gallon this year. Very tasty. I like them on yogurt.

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