Plant of the day: western rasperry

A sprawling pale-stemmed bush is decked with dark purple raspberries. Warmed in the sun, they have a mild, rich sweetness. These tasty fruits are smaller, leaner, and much darker than their plump commercial cousins. I’ve always preferred the wild version!

There are many listed names for Rubus leucodermis  (western raspberry, white stemmed raspberry and whitebark raspberry) but I’ve always just called this “wild raspberry” since it’s the only native one around. It’s in the same genus as Himalayan blackberry, but though the plants are similar they are easy to tell apart even when not in fruit. Western raspberry is a delicate shrub with slim branches that have a glaucous coating which you can rub off with a finger. The leaves of both species are three parted, but blackberries’ are much thicker and darker.

Western raspberry is one of my very favorite California berries, but you won’t see it growing in Marin. Sonoma County? Yep. Santa Cruz? Yep. Even down to San Diego and up into Alaska. But for some reason it doesn’t like the San Francisco bay – there’s no record of it  in SF, Marin, the East Bay, or the Peninsula.

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Filed under Edible, Good for gardens, Native, Plant of the day

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