Plant Ecology

, Volume 210, Issue 1, pp 169–179 | Cite as

Water relations advantages for invasive Rubus armeniacus over two native ruderal congeners

  • Joshua S. Caplan
  • J. Alan Yeakley


Despite species in the Rubus fruticosus complex (wild blackberry) being among the most invasive plants globally in regions with large annual fluctuations in water availability, little is known about their water relations. We compared water relations of a prominent member of the complex, R. armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry), with species native to the Pacific Northwest of North America (PNW), R. spectabilis (salmonberry) and R. parviflorus (thimbleberry). In eight stands of each species located near Portland, Oregon, USA, we measured mid-day hydraulic resistance (R plant), and daily time series of stomatal conductance (g s), leaf water potential (Ψlf), and environmental conditions at four time periods spanning the 2007 growing season. Although all species maintained Ψlf above −0.5 MPa in spring, R. armeniacus maintained less negative Ψlf (≥−1.0 MPa) than the natives in summer, a factor attributable to advantages in both its root and shoot systems. R plant of R. armeniacus was ≤0.1 MPa mmol−1 m2 s for the duration of the study, and approximately 25–50% of R plant for the native species in summer. R. armeniacus had higher g s compared to the native species throughout the spring and summer, with approximately twice their rates in summer. Our R plant and g s results show that R. armeniacus has access to more water during PNW summers than congeneric natives, allowing it to maintain high water-use, and potentially helping it achieve higher growth and reproductive rates. Water relations may therefore be a critical component of the competitive and invasive success of R. armeniacus and other R. fruticosus species worldwide.


Biological invasion Ecophysiology Pacific Northwest Plant invasiveness Rubus discolor Rubus procerus 



This research was supported by a grant from the Center for Invasive Plant Management of Missoula, Montana, USA. Equipment loans from S. Eppley, L. George, M. Sytsma, Decagon Devices, and LI-COR Biosciences helped make this research possible, particularly following a theft during the study. We thank S. Eppley, J. Maser, T. Rosenstiel, M. Sytsma, and two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We also thank the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for permission to use natural areas in their jurisdictions, as well as N. Jenkins, W. Mahaffee, K. Norton, and D. Rosenthal for assistance in addressing methodological issues.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural ResourcesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Science and ManagementPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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