A short-lived warm spell (mid-forties feels pretty good when it’s been below 20 degrees for weeks) allowed me to spend some quiet time sitting by the Quashnet River, watching birds, observing and drawing winter vegetation, and quietly waiting and hoping (unsuccessfully) to see the family of river otters that lives by. Besides the numerous bare woody trees and shrubs, there were two obvious and abundant plants in the river’s flood plain where I had settled down: sphagnum moss and swamp dewberry.
The bristly trailing runners of the swamp dewberry (Rubus hispidus) were intertwined with each other, making it difficult to determine where one plant ended and another began. These runners, which can extend up to 8 feet long, can also put down additional roots when they come in contact with the ground. Three-lobed, toothed, compound leaves are alternately arranged along the stems. Swamp dewberry can retain its leaves throughout the winter, although they tend to become much redder in the winter than they are in the summer.
Bristly runner of swamp dewberry.
Three-lobed, toothed, compound leaves of swamp dewberry.
There are a number of species of dewberry, but as its name implies, swamp dewberry is most often found in wetlands. As a member of the Rubus genus, swamp dewberry is related to blackberries and raspberries, and produces a similar, but smaller, flowers and fruit.
Drawing of swamp dewberry in my perpetual nature journal.