PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)

Many hikers of Pacific Northwest trails know Thimbleberry. It’s one of the two most well known native wild raspberries. Strong opinions are held regarding Thimbleberry or Salmonberry being the best. We’re not going to beat around the bushes here. We side with the Thimbleberry. It has a rich, deep, complex raspberry flavor, and the plant does not produce a ton of berries, the scarcity of which makes them even more enjoyable.

Thimbleberries are hikers’ treats partly because their happy place is growing along trail edges, forest clearings, and roadsides. They love tucking in as understory plants at the open edges of forests where they get some shade on their backsides and some sun on their faces. They grow 2-3 feet tall and, like any raspberry, want to keep sending up new shoots to form a colony. In a well watered in a civilized garden they will spread quickly. If they push too far, use a shovel to chop the colony back to a preferred size. Thimbleberries work best in the urban landscape as a background plant or in a back corner under trees where they can fill in and define the boundary of your kingdom.

Thimbleberries have 1.5 inch flat white flowers which appear in late May and well into June. These turn to berries in a dome shape, sort of like half of a regular raspberry. The berry starts out pink and transitions to orange, then ripens in late June to deep red, sweet and wonderful.