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A deciduous shrub of rambling or scandent habit, the angled stems well armed with stout, recurved spines, and hairy. Leaves composed of five (sometimes three) leaflets, radially arranged; the common stalk 2 to 3 in. long, beset with hooedk spines. Leaflets stalked, and either pinnate, or deeply and pinnately lobed; final subdivisions of leaf coarsely and angularly toothed, spiny on the stalk and midrib, downy especially beneath. The leaves vary much in size, and on vigorous shoots will, including the stalk, reach 8 to 12 in. in length. Flowers in large terminal panicles; flower-stalk hairy and spiny; petals pinkish white; calyx with narrow, downy, reflexed segments spiny at the back, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, ending in a tail-like point. Fruits black, and both in size and flavour one of the finest of blackberries.
The origin of this handsome and useful bramble is not known. It was apparently grown in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, in the 17th century for it was illustrated by Plukenet (Phytografia, t. 108, fig. 4) in 1691 from a specimen given him by William Sherard, who had himself collected it in the Jardin des Plantes. It was known to Philip Miller, who mentioned it in his Dictionary from the 6th edition (1752) onwards, but did not name it. It was named R. fruticosus var. laciniatus by Weston in 1770, while in 1806 Willdenow illustrated and described it as R. laciniatus from a plant growing in the Berlin Botanic Garden. He did not mention Weston, so presumably did not adopt the epithet from him.
R. laciniatus comes more or less true from seed and wild plants, sprung no doubt from seed dropped by birds, may nearly always be found in the vicinity of cultivated plants. A selection is now extensively cultivated for its fruits in gardens, being perhaps the best of all blackberries for that purpose. The foliage is very handsomely divided, and the plant is sometimes grown on pergolas and trellises for its sake as well as for the fruit. It is useful also for growing on the boundary fences, fruiting freely there.