Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: The Thimbleberry

This one isn't so lost as it is uncommon. The Thimbleberry is another one of those fruits that no one eats because it cannot be found in the market. The reason this isn't grown commercially (as with most unavailable fruits) is that it does not ship well. When ripe it is softer than a raspberry but also larger.

As with the Raspberry and Blackberry the Thimbleberry is part of the Rubus genus. In fact there are hundreds if not thousands of plants in the Rubus genus and most of them have edible berries.

This Rubus, the Rubus parviflora is unique to most others in that it has NO THORNS! It is native to North America mostly in northern and western regions so it probably isn't as hard to find. The leaves resemble maple leaves which is different from the blackberry. It grows more similarly to the raspberry than the blackberry, which, means that it is more upright than bramble-like.

This shrub isn't as hard to find as the medlar tree, It can be ordered from most Northwestern native nurseries


Pride in Garfield Park said...

Looks yummy! Any chance they sell thimbleberry at the Cal Poly market?

I'd like to see us set up a produce swap. Say, once a week we meet at a park and swap our wares. Anyone interested?

Anduhrew said...


Cal Poly doesn't sell these. I did however order a plant from up north. I'd be willing to part with some cuttings once I get it in.

I don't have an fruits and vegetables yet this year since I only moved in a year ago. But I'd love to do some swapping!

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite berry! Since I was a kid I sought out thimbleberries whenever we went to the coast. They are like raspberries, but so much better (only partly because they're rare). The flavor is intense, sweet, like raspberry jam with a little tartness. I've had one growing inland in a 5gal pot for like 5 years, but it's never fruited as far as I know.
Wild Blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is also delicious - 10 times better than Himalayan Blackberries, which are the common ones.
Salmon Berries are interesting. Good groundcover.

Anduhrew said...

dakstar, I wonder what the thimbleberries need to flower and subsequently fruit. maybe a ton of phosphorous? a certain amount of sunlight? I think i'll do some research on that.