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A climbing evergreen dioecious shrub, sometimes reaching to the top of lofty trees in the wild; main stems stout, unarmed; branchlets armed with hooked, reddish prickles. Leaves with three to five leaflets, which are glabrous and glossy above, of leathery texture, serrate, varying much in shape: in some forms (believed to be a juvenile phase) they are linear-lanceolate, 3 to 6 in. long but only 1⁄8 to 3⁄8 in. wide, in others ovate-lanceolate, 21⁄2 to 6 in. long and about 1 in. wide, with a somewhat cordate base, in others again relatively broader, with a truncate or oblique base; main-stalk and the stalks of the leaflets armed with recurved prickles. Flowers unisexual, white, about 1⁄2 in. across, produced in often much-branched panicles up to 2 ft long. Fruits about 1⁄4 in. wide, reddish orange, only produced when both sexes are grown.
Native of New Zealand. It is the most handsome of the New Zealand Rubi, at least in flower, but tender away from a wall outside the milder parts. It has been confused with R. australis Forst., which has smaller, thinner, long-stalked leaflets up to 2 in. long and 13⁄4 in. wide; shorter panicles, to 8 in. long, sometimes reduced to racemes; and yellowish fruits.
R. cissoides var. pauperatus Kirk