J Syst Evol ›› 1983, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (1): 13-25.

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A Study on the Genus Rubus of China

Lu Ling-Ti   

  1. (Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica)
  • Published:1983-02-18

Abstract: The genus Rubus is one of the largest genera in the Rosaceae, consisting of more than 750 species in many parts of the world, of which 194 species have been recorded in China. In the present paper the Rubus is understood in its broad sense, including all the blackberries, dewberries and raspberries, comprising the woody and herbaceous kinds. So it is botanically a polymorphic, variable and very complicated group of plants. The detailed analysis and investigation of the evolutionary trends of the main organs in this genus have indicated the passage from shrubs to herbs in an evolutionary line, although there is no obvious discontinuity of morphological characters in various taxa. From a phylogenetic point of view, the Sect. Idaeobatus Focke is the most primitive group, characterized by its shrub habit armed with sharp prickles, aciculae or setae, stipules attached to the petioles, flowers hermaphrodite and often in terminal or axillary inflorescences, very rarely solitary, druplets separated from receptacles. Whereas the herbaceous Sect. Chamaemorus L. is the most advanced group, which is usually unarmed, rarely with aciculae or setae, stipules free, flowers dieocious, solitary, druplets adhering to the receptacles and with high chromosome numbers (2n = 56). Basing upon the evolutionary tendency of morphological features, chromosome numbers of certain species recorded in literature and the distribution patterns of species, a new systematic arrangement of Chinese Rubus has been suggested by the present authors. Focke in his well-known monograph divided the species of Rubus into 12 subgenera, while in the Flora of China 8 sections of Focke were adapted, but some important revisions have been made in some taxa and Sect. Dalibarda Focke has been reduced to Sect. Cylactis Focke. In addition, the arrangement of sections is presented in a reverse order to those of Focke’s system. The species of Rubus in China are classified into 8 sections with 24 subsections (tab. 3) as follows: 1. Sect. Idaeobatus, emend. Yü et Lu(11 subsect. 83 sp.); 2. Sect. Lampobatus Focke (1 sp.); 3. Sect. Rubus (1 sp.); 4. Sect. Malachobatus Focke, emend. Yü et Lu (13 subsect. 85 sp.); 5. Sect. Dalibardastrus (Focke)Yü et Lu (10 sp.); 6. Sect. Chaemaebatus Focke (5 sp.); 7. Sect. Cylactis Focke, emend. Yü et Lu (8 sp.); 8. Sect. Chamaemorus Focke (1 sp.). In respect to the geographical distribution the genus Rubus occurs throughout the world as shown in tab. 2, particularly abundant in the Northern Hemisphere, while the greatest concentration of species appears in North America and E. Asia. Of the more than 750 species in the world, 470 or more species (64%) distributed in North America. It is clearly showm that the center of distribution lies in North America at present time. There are about 200 species recorded in E. Asia, of which the species in China (194) amount to 97% of the total number. By analysis of the distribution of species in China the great majority of them inhabit the southern parts of the Yangtze River where exist the greatest number of species and endemics, especially in southwestern parts of China, namely Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou (tab. 3. 4.). It is interesting to note that the centre of distribution of Rubus in China ranges From northwestern Yunnan to south-western Sichuan (tab. 5), where the genus also reaches its highest morphological diversity. In this region the characteristics of floristic elements of Rubus can be summarized as follows: it is very rich in composition, contaning 6 sections and 94 species, about 66% of the total number of Chinese species; there are also various complex groups, including primitive, intermediate and advanced taxa of phylogenetic importance; the proportion of endemic plants is rather high, reaching 61 species, up to 44% of the total endemics in China. It is noteworthy to note that the most primitive Subsect. Thyrsidaei (Focke) Yü et Lu, consisting of 9 endemic species, distributed in southern slopes of the Mts. Qin Ling and Taihang Shan (Fig. 4). From the above facts we may concluded that the south-western part of China is now not only the center of distribution and differentiation of Rubus in China, but it may also be the center of origin ofthis genus.