Rubus flagellaris


Illustration of dewberry leaves, flowers, fruits.
Dewberry, Rubus flagellaris.
Paul Nelson

Rosaceae (roses)


Dewberry is a trailing woody vine with curved prickles, rooting at the cane tips.

Young stems are green; older stems are brownish and woody.

Flowers are in small groups or sometimes single, on long stems, white with whitish centers, the stems often subtended by a small leaf. Typical rose-family flowers with 5 sepals and 5 petals with many stamens. Blooms April–June.

Leaves alternate, compound, mostly 3-divided, broadly oval with coarse teeth. The 2 lateral leaflets sometimes have a pointed lobe each.

Fruit edible, resembling a blackberry.

Similar species: Rubus is a large genus with nearly 30 species recorded in Missouri. Included in the genus are blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, dewberries, and brambles. The members of genus Rubus often interbreed and hybridize, and the canes often change their appearance between first and second growing seasons, making them a tricky group even for botanists to sort out. The genus has been divided into 6 subgenera and sections in our state. Common blackberry (R. allegheniensis) is similar but is more bushy, with taller, more erect stems.


Height: to about 4 feet; the trailing stems can reach 3 times that distance.


Photo of dewberry flowers
Dewberry is a lot like common blackberry, except that instead of being a small shrub, its canes form trailing woody vines.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in fields, prairies, abandoned pastures, thickets, fencerows, and rights-of-way.

image of Dewberry distribution map
Distribution in Missouri


Human connections

The fruits are deliciously edible. Members of the rose family are tremendously important economically and include many berries, almonds, stone fruits, and other tree fruits such as apples, plus numerous ornamental plants such as roses, crab apples, hawthorns, and spiraeas.

Ecosystem connections

Many types of birds, including catbirds, waxwings, and finches, relish such fruits, as do raccoon, opossum, mice, and even box turtles. Fortunately for the wild animals, human Missourians today usually get their fruits from a store, leaving the wild harvest for the wild creatures.