Boo!

by Jon Hetman, Director of External Relations & Communications

October 26, 2016

ghost bramble stems

Boo!

ghost bramble stems

The stems of Rubus cockburnianus (1245-82*MASS) show the waxy white stems characteristic of the ghost brambles. Photo by Reni Driskill

While there are rumors that the ghost of founding director Charles S. Sargent occasionally roams the Hunnewell Building, you have a better chance of seeing ghosts in the Bradley Rosaceous Collection. Ghost brambles [pdf], that is.

Ghost brambles are in the genus Rubus, a large group of shrubs and ground covers in the rose family (Rosaceae) that includes raspberries and blackberries. Several Rubus species go by the common name “ghost bramble,” specifically R. thibetanusR. biflorus, R. cockburnianusR. lasiostylus, and R. l. var. hubeiensis. These plants’ spooky moniker comes from their distinctive white stems, whose ghostly gleam comes from a wax layer on the stem surface. This glaucous bloom reflects light and is especially striking in the low-angled sunlight of late fall and winter. Combined with evergreens and colorfully-fruited shrubs like winterberry (Ilex verticillata), ghost brambles can add interest to a dreary winter landscape.

ghost bramble stems

A mass of Rubus lasiostylus (107-81-A) displays ghostly white stems in the Bradley Rosaceous Collection. Photo by Nancy Rose

Nancy Rose, editor of Arnoldia

One thought on “Boo!

  1. Our native Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) has a very similar, but even prettier, purplish-white waxy covering on its canes, which is especially noticeable in the off-season.

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