Rubus cissoides


Rubus: From the Latin meaning bramble
cissoides: ivy-like

Common Name(s)

Tataramoa, bush lawyer

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Rubus cissoides A.Cunn.



Brief Description

Prickly vine with compound, leathery, hairless leaves, leaflets 3-5 leathery, margins serrated, veins, petiolules, petioles and young stems armed in red prickles. Flowers in much-branched panicles, white. Fruits numerous, orange-red to red.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South, Stewart Islands


Coastal to montane. Usually in forest but also found in scrub, and on the margins of wetlands.


Much-branched dioecious vine or scrambling vine with stems up to 10 m or more long. Primary stems up to 150 mm diameter, terete, more or less glabrous (when young sparsely covered in minute stalked glands); mature branches unarmed, otherwise branchlets covered with stout, falcate reddish prickles. Stipules narrow-linear. Leaves palmate or ternate, evenly and usually sharply serrate, coriaceous, glabrate, leaflets of juveniles up to 5, otherwise mature plants with 3-5, veins usually distinct, petioles and petiolules usually armed with recurved prickles, stipules narrow-linear; lamina of leaflets varying with range, those of northern North Island populations 70-150 × 3-10 mm, usually narrow linear-lanceolate, acuminate, base truncate (rarely shallowly cordate); those of southern North Island 60-150 × 20-30 mm, usually ovate-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, rarely obtuse, base subcordate; those of South Island 60-150 × 30-60 mm, broadly ovate-oblong to oblong, acute to acuminate, rarely obtuse, base truncate to oblique at base. Inflorescence a much-branched panicle up to 800 mm long, branchlets and pedicels glandular-pubescent. Flowers white (rarely cream). Sepals pubescent, pale-margined, ovate-oblong, obtuse, 3-5 mm long. Petals 5, 5-8 mm long, ovate, oblong or obovate. Male flowers with numerous stamens. Style absent or rudimentary. Female flowers without stamens, or if present these sparse and rudimentary. Fruits up to 12 mm diameter, drupelets 10-15 (or more), orange-red to red. Endocarp ('seed') 1.6-2.7 mm long, dorsally-ridged 1(-3)x.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from introduced Rubus (blackberries, raspberries wineberries etc) by the smaller flowers, usually palmate or ternate leaves, and the lack of long glandular bristly hairs on the young stems. From other indigenous Rubus (bush lawyers) can be distinguished by the reddish prickles, and by the leaves which are hairless (glabrous) or almost so on their undersides, and smooth above (never bullate)


September - November

Flower Colours



December - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from layered stems and semi-hardwood cuttings. Flourished when planted in damp ground in a well-lighted situation. Not often grown on account of its prickly stems - but nevertheless an attractive plant. The fruits though edible are insipid.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

Rubus cissoides is a variable species (Allan 1961; Webb et al. 1988) and at least three races can be recognised. These have a geographic basis. The type is from Northland, and those plants can be distinguished from the other races within R. cissoides by their palmate leaves, and juvenile plants whose leaflets are narrowly lanceolate to almost linear.  From about the Central North Island south to Wellington another race appears which usually has ternate leaves, and the leaflets are rather broadly ovate with truncate bases (this race may also be in the northern South Island). In the South Island another race occurs that has palmate-ternate leaves of variable shape (though never linear or narrowly lanceolate) and with truncate, cordate to oblique leaflet bases. These races are well defined and probably merit some level of taxonomic recognition.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 17 October 2016. Description based on Allan (1961), Webb et al. (1988) and Webb & Simpson (2001)

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Wellington, Government Printer.

Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ 1988: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch.

Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.

This page last updated on 17 Oct 2016