Monthly Archives: April 2023

Good morning taste, sour and sweet just right can stay longer in our memory from childhood. Thimbleberry beyond that taste as this berry smells like rum with brilliant attractive fresh red color. Moreover, when we harvest this berry, our hands will be messy with bright red spots, when we eat it, our mouth will feel the sensation of mushy small seeds melting in our tongue.

This thimbleberry or redcap has the scientific name Rubus parviflorus. It is a native species to northern temperate regions of western North America. Thimbleberry fruits are thinner, softer, and more fragile than raspberry, they have the similar deep sweet of unforgettable awesome smell of ethyl formate.

When picking a thimbleberry fruit, the stem remains on the plant, leaving a hollow core as big as the tip of a finger. So, making the berries easy to fit on the tip of our finger like a thimble. That is where the local name of thimbleberry comes from.

The scientific name Rubus parviflorus is from Latin words rubus means red and parviflorus means small-flowered. Surprisingly the flowers of this species are among the largest of any Rubus species with 5 petals, the diameter up to 6 centimeters and the color of thimbleberry flower is bright white. This species is also called white-flowering raspberry.

A white double layers-flowered of the thimbleberry with an attractive fragrance was discovered near Squamish, British Columbia by Iva Angerman (1903-2008). This cultivar can be found in the market, but also grown in the Botanical Garden of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and in the Native Plant Garden of the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria.

There is also purple-flowering raspberry from eastern North America with the scientific name Rubus odoratus. From its name suggests an incredibly fragrant purple flower to call all pollinators to visit them. This thimbleberry plant has similar growth habits and tastes of the berry with the white-flowering raspberry from the western North America.

Both thimbleberries, western white-flowering raspberry and eastern purple-flowering raspberry like nutrient-dense soil rich in compost in an open area, sunlight, and moist conditions.

Thimbleberry stems have no prickles, and the stem can grow up to 2.5 meters tall with canes no more than 1.5 centimeters in diameter. The leaves are palm-shaped up to 20 centimeters across, much larger than most other Rubus species. The leaves are fuzzy on both sides Among the hikers and naturalists, thimbleberry leaves can be used as toilet paper when in the wilderness.

As thimbleberry fruits are too soft and the fruit does not hold together well, they are not packed or shipped, so are rarely cultivated commercially. Thimbleberry has not been commercially developed for the retail berry market but is cultivated for landscapes.

Permission is needed to reproduce the photo.

-Bintoro Gunadi