A ground cover I just love

I’m a particular fan of ground covers, especially those that replace bare soil or synthetic mulches (plastics, fabrics, and the sciency-sounding “geotextiles”).  That enthusiasm is tempered, however, by those invasive species, like members of Hedera, that seem to take over the world (or at least my little corner of it).  So while logic might dictate a preference for native species, I can’t help but love Rubus hayata-koidzumii (often mislabeled as Rubus calycinoides), and commonly called creeping raspberry.

When it comes to ground covers, I prefer species that stay on the ground; I like them low, tough, and dense enough to keep weeds out.  Of course they need to have attractive foliage and/or flowers.  But the icing on the cake, quite literally, is when they have edible fruits.

That’s why I love Rubus hayata-koidzumii, a high-elevation species native to Taiwan.  This USDA Zone 7 plant prefers sun to part shade (as you can see in the photo above), thriving in hot, dry conditions.  Not only does it do yeoman’s work in covering and protecting slopes, it bears abundant white flowers which morph into tasty fruits that practically beg to be baked into a cobbler or crisp.

But have I let my heart overrule my head?  Are there places where this species has become a problem?  I haven’t found anything in the literature to suggest it’s invasive, but am curious to hear from others.

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

3 thoughts on “A ground cover I just love”

  1. a neighbor of one of my customer’s has this on a steep dry bank. in the approx. 4 years since he planted it, it has filled in nicely and does not seem too rampant. It would seem possible that a bird could eat the fruit and then transport it somewhere, like the ivy found in the middle of the forest, miles from town.

  2. Lynne, you’re right about bird (or other) animal transport, but I haven’t seen any of these sprouting up and can’t find any report of such a problem. Edith, it is a woody ground cover and might be somewhat tolerant of foot traffic, but it would be susceptible to breakage of woody stems, I’d think. That being said, I’ve never seen any that looks bad.

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