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Himalayan Blackberry

Rubus bifrons. R. armeniacus
Updated Jul 09, 2024
 
1

Make a Positive Identification

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus bifrons, formerly R. armeniacus) is a widespread invasive plant that grows throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is also called Armenian blackberry.

Species: Himalayan blackberry
Himalayan blackberry thicket along roadside

Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

Himalayan blackberry takes over neglected areas. Plants live for many years (perennial). Canes grow up to 15 feet tall.

Species: Himalayan blackberry
Himalayan blackberry leaflet with five leaves

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

The leaves are palm-shaped with a central stem. Each leaf has five leaflets (sometimes three) with toothed margins.

Species: Himalayan blackberry
Red-colored Himalayan blackberry cane with large thorns

Himalayan blackberry thorns are large and can stick you. The wound can become infected. Wear thick gloves and clothing when handling the plants. If you are injured by a blackberry thorn, clean the wound with soap and water.

Species: Himalayan blackberry
Himalayan blackberry flower and leaves

John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Bugwood.org

Himalayan blackberry flowers have five petals in shades of white to pink.

Species: Himalayan blackberry
Himalayan blackberry fruits and leaves

Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

Birds and mammals eat the berries and spread seeds widely.

LOOK-ALIKES: OTHER BLACKBERRY SPECIES
Species: Evergreen Blackberry
Evergreen blackberry canes with flowers

Evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus) is also non-native and invasive. Its leaflet edges are more divided compared to Himalayan blackberry.


Take action

Control methods for evergreen blackberry are similar to solutions for blackberry (invasive).

Species: Trailing Blackberry
Trailing blackberry canes on the ground

Trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is native to the Pacific Northwest. It is a low-growing blackberry. It grows thin, bluish canes, three leaflets, and small thorns. The berries are similar to Himalayan and evergreen blackberry fruits, but smaller.


Tolerate if possible

A native plant, trailing blackberry usually does not require control. Control methods are similar to methods for Himalayan blackberry.

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2

Himalayan Blackberry Benefits

  • Himalayan blackberry provides nectar and pollen consumed by pollinators, including honey bees.
  • People enjoy Himalayan blackberry fruits harvested from wild-growing plants.
Only eat wild edible plants you correctly identify. Thoroughly wash before eating. Only eat wild blackberries from your own property. Don’t eat blackberries from plants that have been sprayed with chemicals or growing on roadsides. Consider whether the soil where the plant is growing has been contaminated.
 

Himalayan Blackberry Risks

  • Himalayan blackberry canes have sharp thorns and form dense thickets.
  • Himalayan blackberry displaces vegetation and degrades habitat.
  • Its presence in riparian areas contributes to river and stream bank erosion.
  • Himalayan blackberry blocks human access to large areas of public and private property.
  • It is a food source for the common agricultural pest, spotted wing fruit fly (Drosophila suzukii).
Risk Card
Does it cause harm?
Adults & Children
High
Property
High
Pets
High
Annoyance
High
Environment
High
Action Recommended
 
3

TAKE ACTION

If you have Himalayan blackberry growing on your property, take action to control it.

Do I need to take action?
Yes. Manage Himalayan blackberry to keep it from producing berries, if possible. Birds eat the berries and spread the seeds on your property and the surrounding area.

If you manage property near fruit production areas, your efforts to control Himalayan blackberry could help your neighbors. Removing Himalayan blackberry on your property could help reduce spotted wing fruit fly (Drosophila suzuki) populations on nearby farms.

What if I do nothing?

  • Himalayan blackberry spreads quickly and is difficult to control. It takes over neglected areas.
  • Birds and mammals spread the seeds to new locations, including natural areas.
 
4

Prevent Blackberry

Himalayan blackberry cane emerging under landscape shrub

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Look for New Himalayan Blackberry Plants
  • Return to areas where you treated Himalayan blackberry and look for regrowth.
  • Himalayan blackberry seeds are dispersed by birds. Look for Himalayan blackberry seedlings in landscape areas as shown in the photo.
  • Also look for Himalayan blackberry canes in hedgerows, fence rows, and revegetation projects. Remove new canes quickly.
Landscape area with native plants growing densely together

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Replant the Affected Area
  • After Himalayan blackberry is removed, the desirable plants that were buried underneath blackberry canes often regrow.
  • Replanting is necessary when Himalayan blackberry removal significantly damages a site and few or no desirable plants remain.
  • Replanting stabilizes the soil surface and shades Himalayan blackberry seedlings.
  • Plant with a variety of native species.
  • Check plantings yearly for new Himalayan blackberry plants generated from bird droppings.
Area damaged by invasive plants growth and removal replanted with native plants

Carmen Hauser, iStock

Replant Larger Areas with Technical Support
  • Himalayan blackberry is difficult to eradicate from an infested area. Replanting a previously infested area requires planning and effort.
  • Create a multi-year revegetation plan. Plans include site preparation and planting details, plant care, and follow-up control for Himalayan blackberry and other weeds.
  • Plan for at least 2-3 years of monitoring and maintenance.
  • Your local Extension specialist, soil and water conservation district, or a professional revegetation specialist can suggest strategies for your area.
 
5
Solutions for Himalayan Blackberry

Early Detection & Rapid Response

Watch for Himalayan blackberry on property you manage. Remove it before it becomes a bigger problem.

Physical Removal of Plants & Non-Chemical Methods

  • Cut stems (canes) near the ground and dig out root systems.
  • Mowing and grazing goats will remove Himalayan blackberry canes, but the root system will sprout new canes. Follow up with other management strategies.

Herbicides (Weed Killers)

Herbicides effectively control Himalayan blackberry when used according to the label instructions.

Monitoring & Follow-Up

  • Look for Himalayan blackberry on your property every year and act as needed.
  • After you remove Himalayan blackberry, new plants will grow in the same spot unless you take steps to prevent them.

NEED HELP?

Consider a licensed pest control company. Learn How to Hire a Pest Control Company.
Your local Extension Specialist in Oregon  and other states  can suggest other methods.

Jump To

Method Does it work? Is it safe? Recommendation
A
Physically Remove Plants
Effective
Moderate risk
B
Mowing
Somewhat effective
Moderate risk
C
Targeted Grazing
Somewhat effective
Low risk
D
Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate
Effective
Moderate risk
Use if Necessary
E
If Using Herbicides, Protect Yourself & Minimize Risks
 
A

Physically Remove Plants

Non-Chemical Method

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Physically Remove Plants

Dig out individual plants and small patches. Remove the roots.

Does it work?
Effective
  • Several years of monitoring and effort are required to get rid of Himalayan blackberry.
  • Use preventive measures for best results.
How much effort?
High effort
  • Cut and remove canes to gain access to the roots. Dig out the roots with tools.
  • Return to the area each year and take action as needed.
What's the risk?
Moderate risk
  • If you are injured by Himalayan blackberry thorns, clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Digging large stands of established plants creates significant soil disturbance.
Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
NONE
  • Use gloves and protective clothing when handling Himalayan blackberry.
  • Cut stems (canes) near the soil surface. Then dig out the root systems.
A selection of tools for removing Himalayan blackberry plants

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Cut canes with loppers or a machete. Dig out the root crown with picks, shovels, or similar tools. A selection of tools for removing Himalayan blackberry plants is shown in the photo.

Gloved hands putting stems into a shredder chute

lutavia, iStock

The best method to dispose of cut canes is shredding/chipping. Compost the shredded plant material or leave it on the ground.

 

More Tips for How to Dispose of Canes

  • If you don’t have access to a shredder, lay a tarp or sheet of cardboard under piles of canes to prevent them from developing roots.
  • If tarps or cardboard is not available, pile cut canes and check for sprouts growing from rooted canes.

Blackberry Removal Tips

  • Seedlings or first-year plants can be removed with a shovel.
  • The best time to remove canes is in the spring when the soil is moist.
  • Removing canes in spring weakens the plant in preparation for further control actions.
  • Remove as much of the root as possible to prevent regrowth.
  • Use a shredder to dispose of canes or compost in place.

Soil Disturbance & Erosion

  • Minimize soil disturbance as much as possible when removing Himalayan blackberry.
  • Regrade the soil after digging Himalayan blackberry roots. Apply mulch (when appropriate).
  • Take steps to prevent erosion as needed.
  • Replant the area to shade Himalayan blackberry seedlings.
 
B

Mowing

Non-Chemical Method

kn1, iStock

Mowing

Mowing effectively cuts down Himalayan blackberry canes.

Does it work?
Somewhat effective
  • The canes will regrow from the roots after mowing.
  • Follow up with other control methods to eliminate Himalayan blackberry.
How much effort?
Moderate effort
  • Time your efforts to mow Himalayan blackberry late in the spring before plants flower.
  • The canes will regrow over the summer, but plants won’t flower and produce berries.
What's the risk?
Moderate risk

If you are injured by Himalayan blackberry thorns, clean the wound with soap and water.

Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
NONE

Use mowing to remove large, established plants, then follow up by digging out roots or treating the regrowth with herbicides.

Himalayan blackberry regrowth after mowing

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

After mowing Himalayan blackberry, the canes will regrow. The photo shows Himalayan blackberry regrowth one month after mowing in the late spring.

Mowing HIMALAYAN Blackberry Tips

  • Mowing Himalayan blackberry at least once a year is an effective way to limit canes from flowering, making berries, and spreading to new areas via birds and mammals.
  • Repeated mowing (every 2–3 weeks, spring through fall ) of a Himalayan blackberry stand over several years will kill it.
 
C

Targeted Grazing

Non-Chemical Method

Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Targeted Grazing

Goats eat Himalayan blackberry canes. Sheep, cattle, and horses may also effectively graze tender, early-spring Himalayan blackberry canes.

Does it work?
Somewhat effective
  • The canes will regrow from the roots after grazing.
  • Follow up with other control methods to eliminate Himalayan blackberry.
How much effort?
Moderate effort
  • Establish temporary fences to contain the livestock in an area with Himalayan blackberry.
  • Move the livestock before they damage desired plants.
What's the risk?
Low risk
Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
NONE

Grazing is an effective way to reduce Himalayan blackberry canopy so the root crowns and rhizomes can be located and dug out or the regrowth treated with herbicides.

Grazing HIMALAYAN Blackberry Tips

  • After livestock eat the canes, Himalayan blackberry will grow new canes.
  • Goats will eat desirable vegetation as well as the targeted weed.
  • If you don’t own livestock, you’ll need to find and contract a service that performs vegetation management with animals.
  • Contact professional pest control companies that have experience with grazing goats to control Himalayan blackberry.
  • Ask your Soil and Water Conservation District  (Oregon) for referrals.
 
D

Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate

Chemical Method: Use with caution

Chameleonseye, iStock

Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate

Use if Necessary

Herbicides that contain the active ingredients triclopyr and glyphosate effectively control Himalayan blackberry when used according to label directions.

Does it work?
Effective
  • Several years of monitoring and effort are required to get rid of Himalayan blackberry.
  • Use preventive measures for best results.
How much effort?
Moderate effort
  • Treat individual Himalayan blackberry plants and patches.
  • Return to the area each year and take action as needed.
What's the risk?
Moderate risk
  • Herbicides come with real risks. ALWAYS read the entire label front to back. Review instructions even for brands you know.
  • Herbicides can run off your site into waterways and may harm wildlife. See How to Keep Pesticides Out of Waterways.
  • After treatment, you still might need to cut down and/or remove dead canes with sharp thorns. Use caution.
Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
Using herbicides includes some amount of risk. The lowest risk comes with using alternative methods.

You may be exposed to an herbicide if you:

  • Get it on your skin
  • Breathe it in
  • Eat or smoke afterward without washing hands
  • Touch or eat plants that are wet with spray (you, pets, or children)
  • Bring it inside on your shoes or clothes

Follow directions closely to reduce risk.

Herbicides with active ingredients triclopyr and glyphosate used individually or in a mixture are effective chemical treatments for Himalayan blackberry. Look for these chemical names in the “Active Ingredients” section of product labels.

Photo of herbicide label highlighting active ingredient triclopyr

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

  • The white box on this example product label highlights active ingredient triclopyr. The text on the label states “Kills completely - stumps and roots won’t grow.”
  • Triclopyr doesn’t injure most grasses. It is a good choice for treating Himalayan blackberry growing next to desired grasses in lawn, pasture, and meadow areas.
  • Triclopyr works on Himalayan blackberry in early June and through the growing season.
Photo of herbicide label highlighting active ingredient glyphosate

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

  • The white box on the example label highlights active ingredient glyphosate. Text on the label states “Kills grass and weeds around flower beds, trees, shrubs....”
  • Glyphosate will damage most plants and grasses. Don’t let the spray contact plants you want to keep.
  • Glyphosate is only effective on Himalayan blackberries after flowering/fruiting and into fall.

Herbicide Application Tips

  • Premixed products are available in hardware stores and garden centers.
  • Common herbicide application techniques include foliar (leaves), bare cane (basal bark), and cut stump.
  • Late summer and early fall herbicide applications are most effective for killing Himalayan blackberry plants.
  • Don’t apply herbicides to patches where people might pick fruits before or during berry-picking season.
  • Herbicide application to dormant canes effectively controls Himalayan blackberry. This method limits human contact with herbicide-treated plants during berry-picking season.
  • Herbicide treatments are less effective if the plants are stressed from drought.
  • Expect that Himalayan blackberry will regrow from the roots after treatment with herbicides. Look for regrowth and re-treat as needed.

 

Minimize the potential impact of herbicides to bees and other pollinators. Treat Himalayan blackberry plants before they flower. If plants are flowering when you need to treat them, use the cut-stump or basal bark herbicide application technique. Avoid spraying pollinators directly. For more information, see OSU’s How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides  

 

Herbicide Application Methods

Foliar (leaves), basal bark, and cut-stump application methods all effectively kill Himalayan blackberry. Choose the right method for your situation.

Herbicide Application Requirements for Aquatic Areas

  • Herbicides applied over or near a water body must be registered for aquatic use.
  • Treating Himalayan blackberry near aquatic areas requires specialized skills. This ensures the herbicide is applied effectively. It also protects waterways.
  • Aquatic-use products are rarely sold at plant nurseries or garden centers. They are available through specialty pesticide dealers.
  • Aquatic formulas of herbicide products containing active ingredients glyphosate effectively control Himalayan blackberry when used according to label directions.
  • Other aquatic-use herbicide products may be legal in your area. Consult a licensed pesticide applicator or your local university extension agent before purchasing or using an aquatic herbicide product.

Consider hiring a licensed pesticide applicator to manage blackberry in aquatic areas.

Worker spraying herbicide on 2-3 feet tall foliage

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Foliar (Leaves) Application

  • Spraying herbicide on the foliage of Himalayan blackberry is only practical when it can be done without damaging nearby plants you want to keep.
  • A backpack sprayer is effective for treating small areas.
  • For extensive infestations, treat initially with a foliar application to kill the seedlings, saplings, and shoots. Then follow up with a basal bark or cut-stump applications on the remaining stems.
Diagram of basal bark herbicide application technique

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Basal Bark Application

  • Basal bark is best for stems less than 6 inches in diameter
  • Concentrated herbicide (oil soluble) is mixed with another ingredient (adjuvant), typically a seed oil.
  • The mixture is sprayed on stems from the ground to a height of 12–18 inches.
  • The plant absorbs the herbicide sprayed in the trunk. The herbicide moves to the roots.
Gloved hand spraying herbicide with dye on cut stump

Lyon Duong, UF/IFAS

Cut-Stump Application

  • Cut stems as close to ground level as possible.
  • Remove sawdust and debris from the cut.
  • Apply concentrated herbicide to the area just inside the bark. This area has living tissue (cambium) that will transport the herbicide to the roots.
  • Apply herbicide as soon as possible after cutting the stem.
  • For cut-stump applications, triclopyr is more effective during the early summer. Glyphosate is more effective when applied from mid-summer to leaf fall.
 

If Using Herbicides, Protect Yourself & Minimize Risks

Chemical Method: Use with Caution
Blue heron in marsh

BrianLasenby, iStock

Why is it important to read herbicide labels?

  • They have detailed information on how to use the product correctly and legally.
  • They contain information on potential hazards of the product.
  • They provide instructions you should follow for poisonings and spills.
  • Following label instructions helps you to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits.

Key Herbicide Safety Tips

  • Read the entire label front to back.
  • Follow the instructions.
  • Review the instructions even for brands you know.
  • Only apply the product where the label says it may be applied.
  • Be precise in your application. More is not better.

The Label is the Law

ALWAYS read the label before using herbicide products. The label is a legal document that provides information on how to safely use the herbicide. This helps avoid harm to human health and the environment. Using an herbicide in off-label ways is illegal. It can result in legal enforcement actions.

READ THE LABEL & Follow Instructions
It has instructions to protect you and the environment.

  • Labels are different for every product and they often change over time.
  • Use a magnifying glass for small print.
  • Pay attention to CAUTION, WARNING, and DANGER statements.
  • Pay attention to the PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS.
  • The law states you must read and follow herbicide instructions.

Protect Yourself
Eye, skin & lung irritants

  • Wear the right protective gear. This often includes chemical-resistant gloves, safety glasses, a long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Mix outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wash hands after mixing or applying, and before eating or smoking.
  • Take a shower immediately after handling herbicides.
  • Wash clothes worn while mixing or applying separately from other laundry.

Protect Children & Pets
Children and pets are at risk if they eat or touch the plants before it dries.

  • Keep them away during and after applying herbicides (read label for how long).
  • Remove toys and pet dishes from yard before applying.
  • Don’t track herbicide products into your home on shoes or clothes.

Protect Plants You Want to Keep

  • Glyphosate and similar herbicide ingredients damage both grass and broadleaf plants.
  • Minimize spraying of foliage, stems, exposed roots, or the trunks of desirable shrubs or trees to avoid harm.
  • Follow the label to avoid damaging the roots of trees and shrubs.

Don’t Spray into Water

  • It’s illegal to apply herbicides in a stream or slow moving/wetland pool.
  • You need a product registered for aquatic areas. This includes waterways, ditches, drains, and other places where water collects.

Avoid Wet, Windy, or Hot Weather
Use during favorable weather for best results.

  • Don’t spray when it’s raining or when rain is expected in the next 24 hours.
  • Wind causes spray to drift that can get on you and desired plants.
  • Herbicides may be less effective in hot weather if the target plants are moisture-stressed.
  • Some herbicides can turn into a vapor in hot weather and damage nearby plants.

Protect Pollinators

  • Apply in the early morning or evening when bees are less active.
  • Kill weeds before they flower. Avoid spraying flowering plants.
  • Do not spray on bees or insects.

Storage & Disposal

  • Store in a secure area away from children.
  • Don’t put unused herbicide products in the trash.
  • Never pour down any drain or waterway.
  • Take unused herbicides to a hazardous waste facility.

Call  1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687) to find out where to dispose of herbicides.

For the Portland metro region in Oregon, contact Metro’s Recycling Information. Call  503-234-3000, email   or visit Metro’s website  

More about:

About Using Pesticides on School Grounds in Oregon

If using pesticides on school grounds, there are special rules in Oregon. See School Integrated Pest Management  (Oregon Department of Agriculture).

NEED HELP?

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)  can answer questions about pest control chemicals.
 1-800-858-7378 or npic@ace.orst.edu  

Consider using a licensed pest or weed control company. Learn How to Hire a Pest Control Company.

Your local Extension Specialist in Oregon  and other states  can suggest other methods.

Invasive Species Alert

  • Invasives are non-native species that spread aggressively and alter the environment.
  • Himalayan blackberry is helpful when harvested for food. However, controlling unwanted Himalayan blackberry is costly.
  • Please do your part to control Himalayan blackberry on property you manage. It can spread beyond your property and affect your neighbors.
static invasive map
Invasive species data @ 2022, iMapInvasives (NatureServe)

Himalayan blackberry is widespread in Oregon. There’s no need to report infestations of it.



Content provided by editor Weston Miller and writers Jessica Green and J. Jeremiah Mann. Pesticide safety information edited by Kaci Buhl.

 Peer reviewed by OSU Department of Horticulture.

Photo of Weston Miller

Weston Miller

Project Founder and Content Writer

Weston Miller served as Community and Urban Horticulture faculty for Oregon State University Extension Service for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Weston is an author for content for this website. He developed funding partnerships with Portland area agencies to initiate and build out the Solve Pest Problems website focused on this goals:

Photo of Jessica Green

Jessica Green

Jessica Green has held various positions at Oregon State University for over 15 years. She was one of the original content contributors for Solve Pest Problems and now assists with maintaining the resource for the Oregon IPM Center. Jessica is a contributing author/editor for the PNW Weed and Insect Management handbooks, has designed and conducted research trials, and now serves as an educator for OSU's Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP).

J. Jeremiah Mann

J. Jeremiah Mann

J. Jeremiah Mann completed a Physical Science undergraduate degree at Humboldt State University, and M.S, Ph.D focusing on plant science topics at UC Davis. He went on to work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and in a leadership position serving a private agricultural technology company. He currently lives in Sacramento California where he consults on pest and property management topics.

Photo of Kaci Buhl

Kaci Buhl

At the state level, I lead the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). The program hosts live recertification events around the state, serving over 1,000 licensed pesticide applicators each year. We also produce web-based training modules and license-preparation study manuals. Special training for unlicensed pesticide applicators is also available through a grant from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The PSEP at OSU works closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Pesticides Division.