As a Northwest native plant Salmonberry is well known for colonizing wet sites west of the Cascades and for its reddish-orange raspberry-like fruits.
This species is a deciduous shrub that can grow to a height of 10’ and spread out to form thick stands. New stems are green and armed with thorns while older stems feature an orange flaky bark with few prickles. Stems bear alternate arranged leaves which are pinnately compound (3 leaflets). Leaflets are ovate, 1”-3” long, green above and below, and have doubly serrated margins as well as lobes. The basal pair of leaflets have only single lobes and together resemble a butterfly. Leaflets have thorns on the lower surfaces and a notably wrinkled upper leaf surface.
Salmonberry flowers are monoecious; perfect, complete and quite large (1.5” across). The have a bright pink to dark red color and can appear singly or in clusters of 2 to 4. Flowers often appear before or with unfolding and expanding leaves.
Flowers give rise to yellow to red (often salmon colored) fruit, which are commonly mushy. They do resemble the common garden red raspberry but lack the sharp flavor. Fruits are eaten by all the common song birds as well as game birds such as pheasants and grouse. Hummingbirds enjoy the nectar of the early spring flowers.