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Ghost bramble or 'Silver Fern' (Rubus thibetanus), end January. "A deciduous, suckering shrub with purplish, upright, prickly stems, covered in a frosty white bloom with layers of filigree grey-green leaves felted silver underneath. The stems are biennial and become increasingly dramatic in colour as you move down from the smoky mauve tips, making an attractive ashen mass. The coarse-textured foliage is pinnate and composed of several serrated leaflets. The small flowers are purplish pink and held in large, woolly calyxes. Bluish black, inedible fruit follows ... Origins: dry ravines of the Min River Valley, Sichuan Province, western China." [Fergus Garrett, Great Dixter]