Black Raspberry is a perennial Western bramble with delicious raspberry fruits and edible young shoots.
These unique native, berries are a Northwest summer delight - soft, juicy and sweet. They can be cooked into pies or cobblers, dried for later use, or made into jams and jellies. Berries are very high in anthocyanins and antioxidants (as well as other phenolic compounds) and are a source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy sugars.
In addition, Black Raspberries are being studied for their ability to reduce the growth of certain cancers, improve allergies, diabetes and more.
Young shoots can be harvested as they emerge in spring, peeled, and then eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. Leaves can be make into a light blackberry-flavored tea that is high in vitamin C. This was an important food and medicine plant for Native Americans in the region.
The species name Leucodermis means “white bark”, and describes what makes this Blackcap Raspberry unique (compared to its Eastern relative). A dusty whitish-bluish hue appears on stems, making an interesting visual contrast with the green leaves and red to black berries. A good plant for the edges of a woodland garden, or even better in a garden berry patch! It will propagated by tip-rooting if allowed. Blackcap Raspberry looks good growing alongside Pacific Blackberry, Salmonberry, or Thimbleberry.
Environment and Culture
Blackcap Raspberry’s wild home is in meadows and open woodlands in low to middle elevations throughout most Western states. It thrives in full sun with moisture, like along a forest edge, but can also handle partial shade. It is valuable food for wildlife, especially birds. It can be found growing alongside other native brambles.
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Berries will be bigger with summer water and sweeter in full sun. Prune away old canes after they produce berries in the Fall, and re-trellis the younger vegetative canes for next year.
Harvesting berries is best done by hand. Clusters ripen successively. Berries are underripe when red and ripe when black. However, if you wait too long, they will be overly soft and hard to transport (which just means you have to eat it then - oh well!). And be careful, the juices can temporarily stain the skin and thorns on stems can scratch.
Harvesting young shoots will slightly reduce your crop for the following year (canes are biennial, fruiting the second year and then dying), so only harvest one or two shoots per plant in the spring. Lightly skin them and eat as spears (like asparagus) or chop and add to a native vegetable stir-fry.
Native Range: CA, OR, WA, BC, AK, NV, AR, ID, UT, MO