In season: thimbleberries

This post is a re-post from July 30, 2012.

The thimbleberry, or Snow Bramble (Rubus parviflorus) is now bearing fruit.

A member of the Rosaceae (Rose Family), the thimbleberry is a perennial flowering plant, native to North America.

The fruits or berries of these shrubs are edible and are sweet in taste.

The berries can’t be stored for more than a day. That means – EAT AT ONCE! They’re delicate and squishy, so harvest with careful fingers.

Coastal Grower magazine says that few species can match the thimbleberry for multi-purpose use.

It not only has tasty fruits, but produces edible shoots, soap from its stems, and is an attractive and adaptable subject for gardens throughout British Columbia.

If you want a native shrub adaptable to most gardens in British Columbia, then thimbleberry has to be near the top of the list — fruit, vegetable and ornamental all rolled into one.

Unlike the closely related raspberries and blackberries, there are no thorns on the stems, but the bark is flaky and especially hairy on new growth. Maple-like leaves, 10-30 cm (4-12″) across, grow at the ends of the stems. The 7-9 lobed leaves have the texture of soft sand paper.

Traditional uses of the thimbleberry include dried berry cakes, use of the large leaves to line steam-cooking pits, or boiling the bark for soap.

Thimbleberries can be made into jam by combining equal volumes of berries and sugar and boiling the mixture for two minutes before packing it into jars.

The thimbleberry leaf makes a good toilet paper substitute when you’re out in the woods!

The dried leaves can also be used for a tea used to treat stomach complaints, diarrhea or vomiting.

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