Rubus spectabilis

14 Apr

Rubus spectabilis, the common salmonberry is one of the earlier blooming shrubs in our woodlands. The bright pink flowers nod at the ends of the branches, waiting for hummingbirds to come along, though the occasional bumblebee queen will also nectar at these flowers. They usually bloom at the same time as red flowering currant in April, sometimes in late march. By June, the first raspberry like fruits start to develop, ripening from any shade between creamy to bright yellow, through various shades of orange and bright pink like a raspberry. Some are described as “insipid” in taste, often they are just watery, not nearly as flavorful as other members of the raspberry clan, but they are perfectly edible and a great fast food when hiking. Birds of course love them too.

The bush is a very upright cane type bush to six feet, maybe as much as ten under the right conditions. Like most Rubus, these can spread aggressively from underground runners, but they don’t tip root like many others in their clan. The winter stems on this deciduous shrub are often a rather nice warm cinnamony buff tan color. The thorns are present, but are mostly rather bluntish and not so aggressive as many of brambles.

They prefer shade, but with enough water will grow in full sun. They are considered a facultative wetland plant, so they will grow in moist woodlands, riparian corridors, around ponds and even in areas where the water table more or less floods their roots in winter, but in the garden will prove reasonably drought tolerant with a minimum of watering needed.

This is a beautiful native shrub that is very much underutilized in the garden. It provides beautiful flowers highly attractive to hummingbirds, edible fruits for both birds and people, in an attractive shrub that just needs to be root pruned occasionally (ok, yearly, lol) to keep it in check.

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