Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Guest post 3: purple-flowering raspberry

with 18 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The most common native member of the rose family in Texas is the southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis, whose white flowers you haven’t yet seen in these pages. On June 27, at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, Massachusetts, I found a more colorful relative that’s native in the Northeast, Rubus odoratus, known as thimbleberry or purple-flowering raspberry. I saw no berries on any of the plants, but I did see a small bee on this one.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM

18 Responses

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  1. So there really is a thimbleberry! I saw the identified for the first time last week, by a guy in NH. I have seen it, but thought it was a rose.


    July 16, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    • Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, which in this case is a thimbleberry. From what I can tell, that term refers primarily to Rubus parviflorus, but has been applied to R. odoratus as well.

      These plants are indeed in the rose family, which explains why you thought this flower was a type of rose.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 16, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    • By the way, because I live in Texas and encountered this species only briefly, I wouldn’t be so bold as to say it normally grows in sandy soil, but that seems to be the case for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 16, 2012 at 7:12 AM

  2. this is so cool to see your talent and technique, applied to “my” flowers up here. we have a bunch of these. I’ve documented them at every stage of fertilization and there are some funky-looking stages indeed!


    July 16, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    • Because you live up there, you know “your” species in a way I never will, in all their stages, funky or otherwise. I’m glad for the chance to have done a little something, but at the time I took this picture I didn’t even know what I was photographing. At another nature preserve a couple of days later I saw identification photographs of what was currently blooming, and I recognized this. At least it turned out to be native, unlike so many of the flowers I saw in the Northeast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM

  3. Beautiful – Happy Monday:)


    July 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM

  4. Very pretty…the petals look like they have the texture of crepe paper. Neato1


    July 16, 2012 at 11:57 AM

  5. Nice work love the detail and color in this, well done !!

    Bernie Kasper

    July 16, 2012 at 1:37 PM

  6. You will never run out of beautiful flowers. Because of you, I now notice all of the fields of wildflowers in bloom here. Before, I would have driven right on past. Thank you!

    • A smidgen—or a lot—more wildflower noticing sounds like a good thing to me. I certainly started seeing things differently here (and by extension elsewhere) after I anchored myself in the cycles of the native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM

  7. What a pretty blossom! Rubus parviflorus is very common here, but of course its blossoms are white. The berries, by the way somewhat resemble a raspberry, but their flesh is quite thin and the seeds are very tiny. Delicious too!


    July 16, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    • So you and I are familiar with white-flowering species—and their berries. One day this spring, Eve and I gathered five pounds of southern dewberries. We ate some of them raw, but Eve cooked most of them into a sweet sauce that often ended up as a topping on ice cream.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 17, 2012 at 6:49 AM

  8. Now and then, I indulge in a product or two from American Spoon Foods in the UP of Michigan. In their last catalog, they listed Wild Thimbleberry Jam. It seemed a little pricey at $21.95, but when I did some comparison shopping, it was clear the uncommonness of the berries and their desirability are agreed to by all of the online retailers.

    The catalog description says, “The delicate, velvety, scarlet berries have the taste of tart fruit and roses, and the crisp seed release a nutty flavor when chewed.” Sounds good to me – and interesting that the rose flavor is present.


    July 17, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    • I did a little looking and found three species of Rubus referred to as thimbleberry. One is shown above. Another came up in the comments, R. parviflorus, and the third is R. occidentalis. The USDA map shows all three in Michigan, but I didn’t see anything on the company’s website saying which species produced the berries used for their jelly. I gather from your wording that you haven’t splurged on a jar of it yet. I wonder if it’s tastier than jelly made from our own southern dewberry, which I’ve seen people gathering along US 290 northwest of Houston.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 17, 2012 at 9:23 PM

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