Plant of the Week
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus Nutt.)
By Forest Jay Gauna
Thimbleberry is a favourite berry of children and adults as well as other wildlife. The common name describes its appearance, as it does resemble a thimble from the top, where the thimble has little indentations to push down upon the needle. Imagine a raspberry but smaller, with smaller but more numerous fruitlets. These berries are tart and may be eaten raw, or cooked and made into jam or jelly and other food items such as pemmican or fruit leather. It is red when ripe. Look for thimbleberries in the mountains, in places that are shady, moist, and cool. The leaf is fuzzy and five-lobed, and may grow larger than a person’s spread hand. It should have two small lanceolate stipules at the base, stipules being a common feature of the Rosaceae (Rose family) to which this, blackberries and raspberries belong. Rubus is actually the Latin name for blackberry plants (brambles), which are close relatives of the thimbleberry. Parviflorus means ‘small flowers.’ They are white (sometimes lavender), slightly crinkled, and five-petaled; like a strawberry, the centre of the flower looks rather like a flattened, yellow form of the fruit to be produced.