Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wild Black Raspberries....rubus occidentalis

A few of the places we've lived have been in rural locations.  Sometimes we've been luck enough to spy the telltale red spikey canes of raspberries!  We cultivate these canes and low and behold, they take over.  We allow these tangles to grow and flourish because we know how awesome the black raspberry is.  It may look like we're the sort of neighbours who let our property go wild.  That just may be the case!  What may look like an unruly yard to some, our boys look at it like its a veritable grocery store.  Case in point, the picture below!

Looks wild...but its really yummy.
 Turns out these yummy wild treats are actually called wild black raspberries or rubus occidentalis by their proper name.  I've included some info that I borrowed from Wikipedia:

Rubus occidentalis is a species of Rubus native to eastern North America. Its common name black raspberry is shared with the closely related western American species Rubus leucodermis. Other names occasionally used include wild black raspberry, black caps, black cap raspberry, thimbleberry,[1][2] and scotch cap.[3]
Rubus occidentalis is a deciduous shrub growing to 2–3 m tall, with prickly shoots. The leaves are pinnate, with five leaflets on leaves strong-growing stems in their first year, and three leaflets on leaves on flowering branchlets. The flowers are distinct in having long, slender sepals 6–8 mm long, more than twice as long as the petals. The round-shaped fruit is a 12–15 mm diameter aggregation of drupelets; it is edible, and has a high content of anthocyanins and ellagic acid.[4][5]
Black raspberries are high in anthocyanins. This has led to their being very useful as natural dyes and, since anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants, to a great deal of interest in them for their potential nutraceutical value. Extensive work has been ongoing at Ohio State University to evaluate their benefit for cancer treatment in mammalian test systems,[6] and the first clinical trials on patients with esophageal cancer.[7]
(source:  Wikipedia, Rubus Occidentalis)

A closer view of the wild black raspberry...the trick is to wait until they turn black, as their name suggests.  The red one are too tough and they don't "fall" off the cane very easily.  You know you have a ripe berry when you touch it and it basically falls into your palm.  Our neighbourly birds do love them too, but thankfully the canes are thorny, so the birds don't get out of control like they do with our poor strawberries.  They neighbourhood animals appreciate our wild yards...even if our neighbours don't.  Tee hee!

I send the boys out with baskets in the mornings and they pick (and eat) until they are full...then we throw them into pancakes or muffins.  They keep their shape better than commercial raspberries or traditional raspberries.  They are smaller, tougher and sweeter, I find.

If you let enough of the canes take hold, you'll have plenty of berries for freezing, eating and cooking with.  I had some this morning with yoghurt, flax seeds, raw almonds and honey.  YUM!  Since we've identified these wild berries, I can't help but see these canes everywhere!  I spotted some in the back of the parking lot in an industrial area of Kingston, I've seen them all over. 

Look for red canes with small thorns.  They almost look like dogwood, but dogwood has a slightly different colour of red and no spikes. 


  1. Wow you have raspberries already! Looks delicious!

  2. Hooray for wild! Our daughter wouldn't bring any berries home. She eat all the wild raspberries we pick--black or red.