Research Article
Research Article
Rubus dianchuanensis sp. nov. (Rosaceae) from Sichuan and Yunnan, southwest China
expand article infoQiu-Ping Wang, Yu-Ran Li§, Qiang-Chun Huang|, Huan-Chong Wang§
‡ Yunnan Univerisy, Kunming, China
§ Yunnan University, Kunming, China
| Yunnan Univerisity, Kunming, China
Open Access


Rubus dianchuanensis, a new name for the species previously named as R. vicarius by W. O. Focke in 1911, is proposed. A detailed description, illustrations, and remarks on its phenology, ecology, and geographic distribution are provided. This raspberry (subg. Idaeobatus) is endemic to China and was only found in Sichuan and Yunnan, southwest China. Morphologically, it is most similar to R. ovatisepalus but clearly differs from the latter by having leaf densely white or grey tomentose abaxially, usually leaf-like bracts at the base of inflorescence, 1–6 cm long pedicels, and triangular-ovate sepals with acute to caudate apex.


Endemism, later homonym, Rubus subornatus, synonymy, taxonomy


The genus Rubus was established by Linnaeus (1753) in his Species Plantarum and ten species were described there. Currently, about 700 species of Rubus are recognized, making it one of the largest genera of Rosaceae (Robertson 1974; Lu and Boufford 2003). Plants of this genus are usually shrubs, rarely subshrubs or perennial herbs, and more or less prickly. Their leaves are compound or simple, flowers are pentamerous and mostly bisexual, fruits are fleshy aggregates of drupelets, and tori are usually convex, conical or cylindrical (Kalkman 1993; Lu and Boufford 2003; Wang and Wang 2019).

Members of Rubus are distributed nearly worldwide except for Antarctica and can be found in most types of land biomes from tropical to subarctic regions (Gustafsson 1942; Spies and Du Plessis 1984; Hummer 1996; Lu and Boufford 2003). There are more than 250 species of Rubus in East Asia, and this region is the center of diversity for the subgenera Malachobatus and Idaeobatus (Wang and Wang 2019). More than 200 species are recorded in China, and most of them occur in the southern and southwestern provinces (Lu and Boufford 2003). Recently, new species and nomenclatural changes of Rubus in China have been constantly reported (e.g., Huang and Hu 2009; Byalt 2011; Sun and Boufford 2012; Wang et al. 2013, 2017, 2019; Wang and Wang 2019).

During our fieldwork and the herbarium studies on a taxonomic revision for the Chinese species of Rubus, we encountered a raspberry difficult to assign to any species recognized by Yu and Lu (1985) and Lu and Boufford (2003). Further research showed that it should be identified as R. vicarius Focke, which had been synonymized with R. subornatus Focke previously (Yu and Lu 1985; Lu and Boufford 2003). This plant represents a separate species, therefore, should be resurrected. Nevertheless, Focke’s name is a later homonym of R. vicarius Sudre (1902); consequently, a new name for this distinctive species is required.

Materials and methods

We studied the newly named species both in the field and the herbaria. Type specimens (or type photos) of accepted names and their synonyms in Rubus subg. Idaeobatus were extensively examined and compared, as well as herbarium materials from CDBI, IBSC, KUN, P, PE, PYU and YUKU (acronyms after Thiers 2022). Pertinent taxonomic literature (e.g., Focke 1877, 1910, 1911, 1914; Yu and Lu 1985; Lu and Boufford 2003) were extensively consulted. Morphological studies were carried out on dried material under a stereomicroscope, and measurements were conducted using a ruler or a metric vernier calliper.


Rubus dianchuanensis Huan C. Wang & Q. P. Wang, sp. nov.

Figs 1, 2, 3A1–A5


China. Sichuan Province: Liangshan Prefecture, Muli County, on the way from Wujiao to Yiji, 27°58'21.73"N, 100°41'51.20"E, 3300–3500 m a.s.l., 23 July 2021, Q. P. Wang et al. ML12992 (holotype YUKU!, isotypes YUKU!).

Figure 1. 

Rubus dianchuanensis A habit B bract at the base of inflorescence C bract at the upper part of inflorescence D calyx E flower (side view) F aggregate fruit with persistent calyx.

Rubus vicarius Focke in Sargent, Pl. Wils. 1: 56. 1911, nom. illeg., non Sudre (1902: 12). Type: China. Sichuan Province, Leshan City, Wa Shan, in thickets, 1500–2100 m a.s.l., July to August 1908, E. H. Wilson 948 (BM!, NYBG!, US!).

Figure 2. 

Rubus dianchuanensis A, B habit C abaxial surfaces of leaves D portion of branchlet showing glandular hairs E flower F an immature aggregate fruit with calyx.


Rubus dianchuanensis is most similar to R. ovatisepalus Huan C. Wang, but clearly differs from the latter by its leaf abaxially densely white or grey tomentose, bracts in the inflorescence often leaf-like, pedicels 1–6 cm long, sepals triangular-ovate and with acute to caudate apex.

Figure 3. 

Rubus dianchuanensis (A1–A5) and R. subornatus (B1–B5) A1 a flowering branch showing terminal inflorescence A2 portion of stem showing indumentum A3 bract at the base of inflorescence A4 flower (side view) A5 mature aggregate fruit B1 habit B2 portion of the stem B3 bracts B4 flower (side view) B5 mature aggregate fruit.


Arching shrubs, 1 to 2 m high, deciduous or semi-evergreen. Stems with dense ferruginous glandular hairs and soft eglandular hairs. Branchlets cylindric, grey-green to brown, villous, with curved prickles and nearly straight, ferruginous, 1–2 mm long, glandular hairs. Leaves imparipinnate, usually 3-foliolate, rarely 5-foliolate. Stipules persistent, linear, 5–8 mm long, ca. 1.5 mm wide, pubescent, with glandular hairs, base shortly adnate to petioles. Petioles 0.5–4 cm long, petiolule of terminal leaflets 1–3.5 cm long, lateral leaflets sessile or subsessile; petiolule and rachis with glandular hairs, intermixed pubescence and erect or recurved prickles. Leaf blades cordate or ovate-cordate in outline, papery, adaxially pubescent and with sparse glandular hairs, abaxially densely white or grey tomentose throughout, with sparse glandular hairs along veins. Terminal leaflets cordate, broadly ovate or ovate, 3–11 cm long, 2–7 cm wide, apex acute to acuminate, base rounded to subcordate; margin slightly lobed or not, double serrate; nervation pinnate, with 6–9 lateral veins on each side of the midrib. Lateral leaflets ovate or elliptic, apex acute, base cuneate to round, slightly oblique, 1.5–7 cm long, 1–5 cm wide, lateral veins 5–7 paired. Terminal inflorescences racemose-cymose, 4–10-flowered, 5–15 cm long; bracts at the base usually leaf-like, simple, ovate, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate, with similar indumentum as the leaves, 2.5–11 cm long, 1–5 cm wide, apex acute to acuminate, base rounded to subcordate; bracts at the upper portion linear, 4–12 mm long, ca. 1 mm wide, pubescent, with glandular hairs. Axillary flowers usually solitary, rarely 2–3-flowered. Pedicels 1–6 cm in length, densely pilose, with dense glandular hairs and curved prickles. Flowers 1–1.5 cm in diameter. Calyx grey-green or reddish, abaxially with soft hairs and glandular hairs; sepals triangular-ovate, erect or spreading after anthesis, 5–10 mm long, 2–4 mm wide, margin grey tomentose and entire, apex acute to caudate. Petals pink to white, obovate, 5–8 mm long, 4–5 mm broad, apex repand, base shortly clawed. Stamens numerous in 2 whorls; filaments linear, glabrous, ca. 5 mm long. Pistils numerous; ovaries sparely pilose, styles glabrous. Aggregate fruit ovoid, orange-red to red.

Taxonomic notes

Rubus dianchuanensis was firstly collected by Ernest Henry Wilson in 1908 from Wa Shan (Leshan City) in western Sichuan, southwest China. Based on Wilson’s collection, Focke (1911) published “R. vicarius n. form. (?)” with a Latin description in his monograph Species Ruborum. However, the name R. vicarius Focke was not validly published there under Article 36.1 of the Shenzhen Code (Turland et al. 2018). Shortly afterwards, in July 1911, the name R. vicarius Focke was definitely accepted by Focke (in Sargent 1911) and accompanied by a complete and direct reference, namely “Bibl. Bot. LXXII 211 (Spec. Rub.) (1911)”, to his previous Latin description, it was therefore validated. Unfortunately, the name R. vicarius had been previously used by Sudre (1902) for a European species; thus, Focke’s name as a later homonym was illegitimate (Article 53.1 of the Shenzhen Code).

Morphologically, Rubus dianchuanensis is most similar to R. ovatisepalus Huan C. Wang (Fig. 4), a species described recently from northwestern Yunnan and southeastern Xizang, southwest China (Wang and Wang 2019), in having dense glandular hairs throughout the plant and the racemose-cymose terminal inflorescences. However, R. dianchuanensis differs markedly from the latter by its leaf abaxially densely white or grey tomentose (vs. sparsely pubescent, with glandular hairs), bracts at base of the inflorescence usually leaf-like, ovate, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate (vs. lanceolate to linear), 2.5–11×1–5 cm (vs. 0.7–1.2×0.1–0.2 cm), flower usually larger, 1–1.5 cm (vs. 0.8–1.2 cm) in diameter, pedicels 1–6 cm (vs. 0.7–1.5 cm) long, apex of sepals acute to caudate (vs. long acuminate to caudate).

Figure 4. 

Rubus ovatisepalus A habit B abaxial surfaces of leaflets C mature aggregate fruit.

Rubus dianchuanensis is also similar to R. subornatus Focke (including its variety R. subornatus var. melanodenus Focke) (Fig. 3B1–B5), with which R. vicarius Focke had been erroneously synonymized by Yu and Lu (1985) as well as Lu and Boufford (2003). Nevertheless, R. dianchuanensis differs from it by its not glaucous stems usually covered with dense ferruginous glandular hairs and soft eglandular hairs (vs. more or less glaucous, glabrous), terminal inflorescences racemose-cymose (vs. corymbose), bracts at base of the inflorescence often leaf-like, rarely trifoliolate, ovate, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate (vs. linear) (Fig. 3: A3, B3), pedicels usually longer, 1–6 cm (vs. 1–2.5 cm) long, calyx abaxially with grey pubescent (vs. intermixed tomentose) and dense ferruginous glandular hairs (vs. spare or not), without needle-like prickles (vs. with needle-like prickles), and slightly pink to white (vs. purplish-red) petals. Some specimens of R. dianchuanensis had been identified as R. phoenicolasius Maxim., but it is well differentiated from the latter by stems and branches with short glandular hairs (vs. long glandular hairs) and without bristles (vs. dense bristles), terminal inflorescence racemose-cymose (vs. short racemes) 5–15 cm (vs. 1–6 cm) long, pedicels 1–6 cm (vs. 0.5–1.5 cm) long, flowers 1–1.5 cm (vs. 0.6–1.5 cm) in diameter, calyx without bristles (vs. with dense bristles), sepals triangular-ovate (vs. lanceolate). A detailed morphological comparison between these four species is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1.

A morphological comparison of Rubus dianchuanensis with its relatives.

R. dianchuanensis R. ovatisepalus R. subornatus R. phoenicolasius
Indumentum of stems dense glandular hairs dense glandular hairs glabrous dense glandular hairs and bristles
Abaxial indumentum of leaf blade densely grey tomentose sparsely pubescent, with glandular hairs densely grey tomentose densely grey tomentose
Terminal Inflorescence racemose-cymose racemiform cymes corymbose short racemes
Length of pedicel 1–6 cm 0.7–1.5 cm 1–2.5 cm 0.5–1.5 cm
Diameter of flower 1–1.5 cm 0.8–1.2 cm 2–3 cm 0.6–1.5 cm
Petal colour white or slightly pink white or slightly pink purplish-red white
Petal vs. sepal petal slightly longer than sepals petal shorter than sepals petal shorter than sepals petal much shorter than sepals


Rubus dianchuanensis flowering from June to August, fruiting from July to September.


The specific epithet “dianchuanensis” refers to the Yunnan (called dian for short in Chinese) and Sichuan (called chuan for short in Chinese) provinces, where this species occurs.

Distribution and habitat

Rubus dianchuanensis is endemic to southwest China, where it has been collected from western Sichuan and northwestern Yunnan (Fig. 5). It usually occurs at elevations ranging from 2500–3600 meters and grows in open woods and thickets.

Figure 5. 

Geographical distribution of Rubus dianchuanensis (red dots).

Additional specimens examined

(Paratypes): China. Sichuan: Muli County, Damadian, 3000 m a.s.l., 16 Aug 1937, T. T. Yu 7740 (PE); Shimian County, Liziping Country, 2700 m a.s.l., 28 Jul 1978, Shimian Team 78-0875 (SM); Shimian County, 1955, C. C. Hsieh 41198 (IBSC, PE); Kangding City, Zheduotang village, 3100 m a.s.l., 1 Aug 1963, K. C. Kuan et all 1218 (PE); same location, 3450 m a.s.l., 5 July 1953, X. L. Jiang 36185 (IBK, IBSC, PE); same location, 3600 m a.s.l., 16 Jul 1953, W. P. Fang & X. L. Jiang 36323 (IBK, ISBC, PE); Kangding County, 2750 m a.s.l., 24 Jun 1980, Z. J. Zhao 112962 (CDBI) and Z. J. Zhao 119262 (PE); Kangding City, Yajiageng, Laoyunshachang, 3318 m a.s.l., 101°58'17"E, 29°56'00"N, 28 Aug 2008, Y. L. Peng & W. G. Tu Gaoxf-0856 (KUN); Xiaojin County, 3500 m a.s.l., 1 Jul 1959, Z. G. Liu 0412 (CDBI, PE); Lixian County, 26 Aug 1957, X. Li 74160 (IBSC, PE, NAS); Lixian County, Miyaluo village, 25 Jul 1958, Z. L. Wu 33375 (PE; CAF); Barkam City, Barkam County, Dalangjiao River, 2300–2900 m a.s.l., 12 Jul 1960, Sichuan Medicine Source Survey Team 22297 (NAS, SM); Barkam City, 2800 m a.s.l., 11 Jul 1957, H. F. Zhou & Z. Y. Zhang 22772 (IBSC, NAS, KUN, PE); Barkam City, Dalangzugou, 2700 m a.s.l., 27 Aug 1957, X. Li 72288 (IBSC, NAS, PE); Heishui County, Naizigou, 2900 m a.s.l., 22 Jul 1957, X. Li 73260 (IBSC, NAS, KUN; PE). Yunnan: Ninglang County, Lugu Lake, 27°39'21"N, 100°48'36"E, 2500–2600 m a.s.l., 6 Aug 2015, H. C. Wang et al. LGH8164 (YUKU).


We would like to thank the curators and staff of the herbaria from which specimens have been used in this study and Dr. Piotr Kosiński for his comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to Dr. Zhang Libing (Missouri Botanical Garden) for his valuable discussion on the nomenclature of Rubus vicarius Focke. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no: 31960040) and the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) programme (2019QZKK0502).


  • Byalt VV (2011) Rubus luae Byalt, a new name for R. multisetosus T.T. Yu et L.T. Lu (Rosaceae). Novosti Sistematiki Vysshikh Rastenii 42: 232–234.
  • Focke WO (1877) Synopsis Ruborum Germaniae. die deutschen Brombeerarten ausführlich beschieben und erläutert, Müller Verlagsbuchhandlung, Bremen, 434 pp.
  • Focke WO (1914) Species Ruborum. Monographiae generis Rubi prodromus III. Bibliotheca Botanica 19 (Heft 83): 1–274.
  • Huang JY, Hu JM (2009) Revision of Rubus (Rosaceae) in Taiwan. Taiwania 54: 285–310.
  • Kalkman C (1993) Rosaceae.– In: van Steenis CGGJ (Ed.) Flora Malesiana, ser. 1, spermatophyta, Vol. 11(2). Leiden University, Leiden, 227–351.
  • Linnaeus C (1753) Species Plantarum. L. Salvius, Stockholm, 1200 pp.
  • Lu LD, Boufford DE (2003) Rubus Linnaeus. In: Wu ZY, Raven PH (Eds) Flora of China 9. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, 195–285.
  • Robertson KR (1974) The genera of Rosaceae in the Southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 55(2): 303–332, 344–401, 611–662.
  • Sargent CS (1911) Plantae Wilsonianae: an enumeration of the woody plants collected in western China for the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University Part 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 144 pp.
  • Sudre H (1902) Notes critiques sur les plantes distribuées: N°287 Rubus vicarius Sud. Bulletin de l’Association Pyrénéenne pour l’Échange des Plantes 10: e12.
  • Sun Y, Boufford DE (2012) Rubus naruhashii (Rosaceae), a new name for R. clivicola E. Walker. Shokubutsu Kenkyu Zasshi 87: 135–136.
  • Thiers B (2022) [continuously updated] Index Herbariorum: a global directory of public 22 herbaria and associated staff. New York Botanical Garden’s Virtual Herbarium.
  • Turland NJ, Wiersema JH, Barrie FR, Greuter W, Hawksworth DL, Herendeen PS, Knapp S, Kusber WH, Li DZ, Marhold K, May TW, McNeill J, Monro AM, Prad J, Price MJ, Smith GF (2018) International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Shenzhen Code) adopted by the Nineteenth International Botanical Congress Shenzhen, China, July 2017. Regnum Vegetabile 159. Koeltz Botanical Books, Glashütten.
  • Wang HC, Wang QP (2019) Rubus ovatisepalus (Rosaceae), a new species from Yunnan and Xizang, southwest China. Annales Botanici Fennici 56(4–6): 227–230.
  • Wang HC, Zhang RZ, Liang ZL, He ZR (2017) A new species and two new synonyms in Chinese Rubus (Rosaceae). Annales Botanici Fennici 54(1–3): 105–109.
  • Yu TT, Lu LT (1985) Rubus Linnaeus. In: Yu TT (Ed.) Flora Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae 37. Science Press, Beijing, 10–218.
login to comment