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Rubus armeniacus is a perennial plant which bears biennial stems ("canes") from the perennial root system. In its first year, a new stem grows vigorously to its full length of 4-10 m, trailing along the ground or arching up to 4 m high, stout, up to 2–3 cm diameter at the base, and green, or reddish-tinged above if open to bright sun. The leaves on first year shoots are 7–20 cm long, palmately compound with five leaflets; flowers are not produced on first year shoots. In its second year, the stem does not grow longer, but produces several side shoots, which bear smaller leaves with three leaflets (rarely a single leaflet); the leaflets are oval-acute, dark green above and pale to whitish below, with a toothed margin, and thorns along the midrib on the underside. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on panicles of 3–20 together on the tips of the second-year side shoots, each flower 2–2.5 cm diameter with five white or pale pink petals. The fruit, in botanical terminology, is not a berry, but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets, 1.2–2 cm diameter, ripening black or dark purple. Both first and second year shoots are spiny, with short, stout, curved, sharp spines. Mature plants form a tangle of dense arching stems, the branches rooting from the node tip when they reach the ground.
Invasive and abundant.