Rubus parvifolius (Small-leaf Bramble)

Plant Info
Also known as: Japanese Raspberry, Japanese Bramble, Australian Raspberry, Australian Bramble
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:Asia, Australia
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soils; open woods, woodland edges, roadsides
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:4 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Two to several stalked flowers in a loose cluster at the tip of 1-year-old stems, usually with one to a few flowers in the upper leaf axils. Flowers are rose-pink to red to purplish, 1/3 to ½ inch across with 5 erect, spoon-shaped petals that drop off soon after pollination. In the center is a cluster of many styles surrounded by a ring of stamens.

[photo of sepals and stalk] The 5 sepals are broadly triangular, longer than the petals, widely spreading or curving down (recurved), whitish on the inner surface, the outer surface pale green and moderately to densely hairy with scattered soft, slender bristles. Flower stalks are up to 1 1/3 inch long, covered in short hairs with scattered stiff, broad-based prickles.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate and compound, mostly with 3 leaflets on flowering stems and pinnately compound in 3s or 5s on non-flowering stems. Leaflets are egg- to fan- to diamond-shaped, often with 2 or 3 shallow lobes, mostly rounded at the tip and wedge-shaped at the base. The terminal leaflet is stalked, up to 2½ inches long, a little more or less as wide;  lateral leaflets are stalkless or nearly so, smaller than the terminal leaflet and mostly longer than wide. Edges are single or double toothed, the upper surface medium to bright green and sparsely hairy, the lower surface whitish from dense, matted hairs.

[photo of stipules, stem hairs and prickles] Leaf stalks are sparsely to moderately short-hairy with scattered stiff, curved, broad-based prickles. Near the base of the compound leaf stalk is a pair of appendages (stipules), each up to ½ inch long, linear and hairy. Both non-flowering first-year canes (primocanes) and second-year flowering canes (floricanes) are green to purplish, sparsely to moderately hairy with scattered stiff, curved prickles. Canes are prostrate to ascending, sometimes climbing over other vegetation, and die before the third year but prostrate stems can root at the nodes and arching stems that touch the ground can also reroot and start new shoots.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round cluster of fleshy druplets, 1/3 inch in diameter, turning bright red and easily separating from the receptacle when mature.


Small-leaf Bramble, a.k.a. Japanese Raspberry, is a recent introduction to Minnesota, first discovered in Stillwater in 2017 but not identified until 2019, after Jason Husveth noticed an odd-looking Rubus while collecting specimens for his sedge identification workshop. He subsequently resurveyed the vicinity, including the 2017 sighting, and found it much more widespread than he initially thought, with scattered dense patches in a wooded natural area as well as along roadsides in adjacent residential neighborhoods. The story is it had been quietly spreading from one of these residences for at least 25 years. The full extent has yet to be determined. Native to Australia and eastern Asia, it is invasive in savanna and prairie habitats according to Iowa State University, who notes its vigorous growth is difficult to control. It is tolerant of both full sun and nearly full shade. This species appears on several invasive species lists. We hope someone will eradicate the Stillwater populations before it spreads any more.

Small-leaf Brample should be easily recognized by the relatively short and sprawling stature, leaves with 3 or 5 leaflets that are generally rounded at the tip and whitish on the underside, stems that are hairy (without glands) and sparsely to moderately prickly, rose-pink to red-purple flowers, and small, round, bright red fruits. When we visited the site to photograph the plants, what immediately caught our eye were the bright green leaves—they really stood out against the darker green of surrounding vegetation, at least they did in early July. At least one cultivar, with yellow leaves, is available in the nursery trade.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Stillwater, Washington County. Fruit photo in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


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

Posted by: John Thayer - Stillwater, MN
on: 2019-07-09 07:40:29

This was actually first discovered by Katie Petzel in the late fall of 2017.

Posted by: Ellen S. - Hennepin Co.
on: 2021-05-09 12:05:17

What specific traits distinguish this from Rubus occidentalis in the field? I can't tell floricanes from primocanes and none of the local Rubus are flowering yet.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-09 13:29:37

Ellen S., distinguishing characteristics are described in the Notes section. The leaflet shape in particular is different from the native raspberry.

Posted by: Ellen S. - Hennepin Co.
on: 2021-05-09 18:23:21

Sorry but the descriptions and pictures look the same to me. What specifically is the difference? Is there any difference besides hairy/smooth stems?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-10 12:34:28

Ellen, besides the hairs, the leaflet shape is different; R. parvifolius leaflets are much more rounded at the tip than the native raspberry or blackberry.

Posted by: Mason Verhaagh - Fergus Falls
on: 2023-04-17 10:56:32

FYI this may be present near Fergus Falls in Otter Tail county by Orwell reservoir. In 2019 I mistakenly Identified it as Basal leaves of a wild parsnip plant as it was quite small in the spring and I didn't know any better. It has since teamed up with some crown vetch and taken over what was once a beautiful Prairie restoration. I again noticed it in 2021, and at this time it was clear what it was. I'm not sure how long it has been present but it seems to be extremely aggressive towards the prairie and nearly impossible to walk through.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.