New Creeping Rasberry Groundcover
A new groundcover creeping its way into our landscapes is Rubus rolfei. Commonly known as creeping raspberry, the groundcover is often listed incorrectly in some catalogs as calycinoides, and it is sometimes also listed as Rubus pentalobus. This groundcover adapts well to difficult sites that are hot, dry, erodible slopes or ditches where moisture fluctuates. Few plants can tolerate these conditions but creeping raspberry is well suited to them.
The non-fruiting groundcover from Taiwan grows 1 to 3 inches tall, with crinkly, deep-green leaves providing needed texture in lightly shaded areas. White flowers are borne in mid-summer, but they are generally lost in the foliage and not prominent. The plant quickly forms a dense carpet. In the fall and winter, foliage transforms to subtle rusts and pinks. The groundcover is aggressive, but not invasive. It will not climb trees or smother nearby shrubs, and can be controlled easily with an edger. Space creeping rasberry plants 4 to 6 feet apart, allowing them plenty of room.
Creeping raspberry adapts well to containers and tumbles easily over rock walls, providing a “spilling over” effect. Bulbs or other perennials are able to pop up through the foliage to create interesting compositions.
‘Emerald Carpet’ forms a low, dense, evergreen groundcover bearing textured, dark green leaves through the growing season. In the cooler months these leaves are blushed with burgundy tones. This cultivar is easily found in the Lath House and the Klein-Pringle White Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) at NC State University. ‘Golden Quilt’ is a branch sport from one of the clones found at the JCRA. This cultivar bears striking golden-yellow leaves and is especially prominent on the new growth of the season. Look for it in the bed that slopes down from the east side of the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, just up from the Manooch Cascade.