Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus


Rubus parviflorus

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Soil Conditions: Acid, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: White
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 4-8 feet
Spacing: 4-8 feet

Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus, also known as Western Thimbleberry, is a dense, upright, multi-branched, thicket-forming, non-spiny, deciduous shrub which typically grows to 4-8 feet tall. It is native to forest openings, forest margins and thickets. It is sometimes found on streambanks, lakeshores and along roads and railroad right-of-ways. Shrubs will typically naturalize to form thickets in the wild. Fragrant 5-petaled white flowers bloom in clusters in spring. Flowers give way to edible raspberry-like fruits which mature in mid-summer. Soft, velvety, 3-5 lobed green leaves with sharp toothed margins turn attractive shades of gold and brown in fall.

Best grown in organically rich, slightly acidic, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Will tolerate some brief seasonal flooding but is generally intolerant of wet soils which can cause root rot. Best fruiting generally occurs in climates with cool summers. Propagate by dormant rhizome segments, stem cuttings or seed.

Flowers and fruits are absent on new cane-like stems in the first year, but appear in the second year on overwintered stems. If flowers and fruit production are a priority, consider pruning as follows: (1) Remove canes that have fruited immediately after fruit is harvested, leaving the new non-fruiting canes to over-winter. Also remove at this time any non-fruiting canes that exhibit weakness or disease or are growing in strange directions. (2) In late winter, remove any canes damaged by winter and thin the remaining canes as needed, leaving only healthy, well-spaced canes.

Fruits may be eaten directly off the shrub or used to make flavorful jams and jellies, but are rarely commercially cultivated because they are very soft and very difficult to pack and ship without damage. Each fruit is technically not a berry but is an aggregate fruit containing numerous pubescent drupelets surrounding a central core. Carefully remove the drupelets and what is left resembles a thimble, hence the common name of thimbleberry

 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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