Rubus: Fairytales and a Shared Seattle Nemesis

Adrienne Domingus
6 min readNov 29, 2022

When Sleeping Beauty, also known as Little Briar-Rose fell into an enchanted sleep on her fifteenth birthday, having pricked her finger on the foreordained spindle, a “thorn hedge” grew around the castle to protect her from the princes who heard of her beauty and, nevermind that she was unconscious, tried to force their way into the castle to see her. Alas, they couldn’t make it into the castle grounds, because “the thorns held firmly together, as though they had hands, and the young men became stuck in them, could not free themselves, and died miserably.”

Briar and bramble are both used to describe thickets of thorny bushes. They do evoke something of fairy tales for me, or of some long-past agrarian utopia that almost certainly never actually existed except in the minds of modern city-dwellers, but that would viscerally repel them were they ever to encounter it. Leaving behind the whimsey, bramble is another word for plants in the Rubus genus (part of the rose family, making the name “Briar-Rose” redundant). They are indeed thorny, some varieties viciously so. As in fairy tales, so too in the real world: whether the thorns help or harm depends on your perspective.

Were I Sleeping Beauty, I’d have been pleased to have a thorny thicket surrounding me and protecting me from princes intent on forcing their way in to see me while in a cursed…