Rubus squarrosus


Rubus: From the Latin meaning bramble

Common Name(s)

Leafless lawyer, yellow-prickled 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 squarrosus Fritsch



Brief Description

Extremely prickly usually leafless (or nearly so) scrambling vine. Stems, petioles, petiolules and leaf midribs covered in conspicuous yellow prickles. Leaves usually much-reduced (sometimes absent) compound; leaflets 3-5 , lanceolate, deeply toothed. Flowers white, in panicles up to 200 mm long. Fruit red to red-orange.

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


Rubus cissoides var. pauperatus Kirk


Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands, from Ahipara south (scarce north of the Manawatu) and with the exception of Northland mainly easterly.


Coastal to montane. Usually in open areas, particularly in dune-field, grey scrub and other shrubland; open forest, river beds, cliff faces, or on talus and boulder slopes.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from introduced Rubus (blackberries, raspberries wineberries etc) by the virtually hairless stems and branchlets, much-reduced leaves (so appearing at times leafless) and bright yellow prickles, as well as having smaller flowers and fruits.


October - December

Flower Colours



February - March

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from layered stems and semi-hardwood cuttings. An unusual and oddly attractive plant which does well in open, free draining soils, rockeries and also in places where it can grow through surrounding shrubs. Rather resilient it can tolerate some drought and frost. Despite its very prickly stems and leaves it is probably the most commonly grown New Zealand indigenous Rubus. The large yellow prickles and seemingly leafless growth habit are sufficiently unusual that it has proved popular in gardens. If planted in the right sites it is also an excellent deterrent, keeping out unwanted visitors and animals! As with most of the New Zealand native Rubus the fruits of this species though edible are small and insipid.


Not Threatened but often local and uncommon over large parts of its potential range. Some northern populations are very vulnerable to habitat destruction

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally available from retail plant and specialist native plant nurseries.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (5 November 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 7 Nov 2016