Rambler roses, species of Rosa, are usually associated with the vegetation of Britain. In the same family, Rosaceae, the genus Rubus, has several climbing and rambling species in New Zealand. These are known as the bush lawyers because the prickly stems clasp the clothing of travellers through the forest. They have become more widespread in second growth induced by settlement. The genus itself is a very large and cosmopolitan one containing about 1,000 species, but the five New Zealand species are endemic. The introduced blackberry is Rubus fruticosa.
R. australis forms stout main stems and will climb to heights of 30 ft or more. The juvenile plant creeps over the forest floor until it finds a tree or shrub to climb. The leaves are about elliptic, 1 to 2 in. long and have long petioles. Male and female flowers are on separate vines. They are white and produced in panicles. Fruit is like a small blackberry but is yellowish. The species occurs throughout the North, South, and Stewart Islands in lowland to montane forest. R. squarrosus is a species that has different forms, one of which is a bush composed of fine interlaced branchlets, with leaflets reduced to the midribs. This and the stem are beset with yellow prickles.
Other variations are to be found throughout all the species, and some of them also appear to be connected by intermediate forms or possibly hybrids.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.