Salmonberry – Rubus spectabilis

Salmonberry - Rubus spectabilis

Plant of the Month

Rubus spectabilis

Salmonberry is a deciduous shrub in the rose family. This shrub is one of the earliest to flower, and its vivid magenta blossoms can be observed right now. It has fine prickles along its woody stems, trifoliate, toothed leaves, and edible berries. The edible fruits are delicate and raspberry-like, with many drupelets, and they range in color from yellowish to rosy, pink-tinged orange. Salmonberry fruit ripen from mid-June to late July, with a juicy tart flavor that sweetens somewhat when they are about to fall off.

Hummingbirds love salmonberry flowers. Many native mammals, such as elk, graze on its twigs, leaves, and buds, and the plant tends towards thickets that birds and smaller mammals can use as nesting habitat. Salmonberry shoots and berries are a traditional food source for First-Nations people in the Pacific Northwest, and the name derives from the traditional springtime pairing of salmonberry shoots with salmon meat or dried spawn. The Rubus genus also includes other edible berries such as blackberries and raspberries.

Salmonberry prefers moist, forested areas in partial shade. It can be found from northern California up into Alaska, from low to subalpine elevations. Salmonberry takes well to disturbed sites, and its deep roots can help stabilize slopes and streambeds. It can be grown from cuttings and rhizomes as well as from seed.