Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) 1917(2): 77-49 (1917)

(Rubus illecebrosis, Focke)

For a good many years a dwarf herbaceous Rubus has been in cultivation under the name of the Strawberry-Raspberry. As a drawing has been made for the "Botanical Magazine," and its history has been much confused, the opportunity is taken of clearing the matter up, so far as materials are available.

In an account of the Rubi of Eastern Asia, published in 1871, Maximowicz included under "R. rosifolius β coronarius" (1) a state "flore simplici" and (2) a state "flore pleno." Of the former he says that two indigenous forms occur in Japan, an alpine one, which has dwarf annual simple stems, one or two large terminal flowers, and scarlet fruits an inch long. This is the strawberry-raspberry now under discussion, as proved by a fruiting specimen in the Herbarium collected and named by Maximowicz himself. The locality given is "Nippon: in declivio continentali vulcani Fudzi-yama, in sylvis; November, 1892.'' The second form described by Maximowicz "loci magis demissis calidioribus orta," as having branched biennial stems and yellow fruits, is quite different, and may be the R. pungens, Camb. (Phonzo Zoufou, xxxi. fol. 14, recto), a true Idaeobatus, and also a native of the island of Nippon. The double state (2) is the one figured in the "Botanical Magazine" (t. 1783) as R. rosaefolius β coronarius, Sims. This Maximowicz regards as a "lusus" of the single form (1), and he states of it that it is everywhere cultivated in Japanese gardens, and may possibly mature fruit, as perfect reproductive organs are frequently present. It is on the strength of the two single forms mentioned that he adds in the diagnosis of this variety β coronarius "fructo rubro vel luteo succulento.'' Maximowicz also cites Rubus chinensis, Ser., as a doubtful synonym, but this proves different, as will be seen presently.

Some four years later, Franchet and Savatier enumerated the Strawberry-Raspberry as "Rubus rosifolius β coronarius," adding the Japanese native name "Buru itsigo (Tanaka)," and citing a figure of a flowering specimen in the Japanese work, "Phonzo Zoufou," vol. xxv. fol. 15, recto, "sub Tokouri itsigo," and a specimen collected by Savatier on Mt. Fuji-yama in this state is preserved at Kew.

In 1898 what is clearly the alpine dwarf form of Maximowicz was figured in the "Wiener Illustrirte Garten-Zeitung" as the Japanese Erdbeer-Himbeere, and it is said to have been introduced to cultivation two years previously. In the following year a note was contributed to the "Gardeners' Chronicle" by Mr. C. Wolley Dod to the effect that in the previous autumn he received a small plant from a lady, who got it from France under the name of "Fraisier-Framboisier," and it was said to be a hybrid between a strawberry and a raspberry. The plant appeared so unlike both reputed parents that Mr. Wolley Dod had sent it to be named, and was told " on good authority" that it was Rubus rosaefolius, Smith, a native of Tropical Asia. This determination seems to have been an echo of the original error of Maximowicz.

In 1899 Focke, unaware of its identity with Maximowicz's alpine dwarf form (1) described the sanie plant as a new Rubus, of which he had received flowering and fruiting specimens from Inspector Rettig, of Jena, adding that this was the R. sorbifolius of gardens, but not of Maximowicz. The name "illecebrosus" was given in allusion to the attractive fruit, and the plant as to habit was compared with R. xanthocarpus, Bur. & Franch. Its native country was stated to be probably Japan. In his later Monograph, Focke placed the plant in the section Idaeobatus just before R. rosaefolius, Smith, and he compared it with R. fraxinifolius, Poir., but this is not its proper position, for the drupeoles when mature do not part freely from the persistent receptacle, as in the Raspberry set, but are firmly attached to it, both breaking away together. In fact it belongs to the section Cylactis, and to the small sub-section Xanthocarpi, of which R. xanthocarpus, Bur. & Franch., is the type. There is an imperfectly described Cylactis, also from the island of Nippon, viz., Rubus minusculus, Lév. & Van., which was said to differ from R. pedatus, Smith, in the non-creeping stem, pinnate leaves with lanceolate sessile incise-denticulate leaflets, somewhat resembling those of a Sorbus, and hairy sepals. It was based on a plant collected by Faurie (n. 3187), but unfortunately no specimen is available for comparison. The characters are so much in agreement with R. illecebrosus as to suggest that it may be a form of the same species.

The establishment of the synonymy of this plant involved the identity of Rubus chinensis, Ser., which Maximowicz doubtfully included under his var. coronarius flore simplici. As no specimen was available for comparison, application was made to Dr. C. de Candolle, who has kindly forwarded a life-sized photograph of the original specimen in the Candollean Herbarium, together with fragments of the foliage. The specimen is young, with partially-developed buds, and is clearly an Idaeobatus, which matches best R. Thunbergianus, Sieb. & Zucc., in fact, the details of shape, venation and texture are quite in agreement. It agrees neither with R. rosaefolius nor with R. illecebrosus.

R. rosaefolius, Smith (Bot. Mag. t. 6970), is a tropical plant which is not hardy in England, and apart from the different habit and sectional characters above pointed out, it is also readily distinguished by floral characters.

The following is the synonymy of R. illecebrosus:—

Some other herbaceous Rubus species:

Rubus dalibarda L (False Violet or Dewdrop) inhabits swamps and moist woodlands in northeastern North America. It has both typical (chasmogamous) flowers, which are often sterile (fail to set seed), as well as self-fertile (cleistogamous) flowers that do not open, and are held below the leaves.

Rubus gunnianus (Native Strawberry) is a common herb in the alpine and subalpine areas of Tasmania.

Rubus lasiococcus is a species of wild blackberry known by the common names roughfruit berry and dwarf bramble. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to northern California, where it grows in mountain forests.