Salmonberry – Native Plant Spotlight

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

We often miss observing the interconnected relationships that make up our complex environment. Try tapping into your listening skills, instead of using a calendar to heed the start of spring this year.

Referred to as the “salmonberry bird” by many Native American nations in this region, the song of the Swainson’s Thrush often signaled the opportune time for salmonberry harvest. (For a great field guide for native plants checkout Plants Of The Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.)

Salmonberry Leaves Photo Credit: Walter Siegmund (talk), Rubus spectabilis 1582, CC BY-SA 3.0, a long time, the earliest native berry to flower and fruit has been associated with the Swainson’s Thrush bird-song. Listen to audio on the National Audubon Society’s Swainson’s Thrush page by scrolling down to Songs and Calls. Salmonberries do well in moist, wet places and have pink flowers. Often the edible berries are either revered or overlooked. The edible early sprouted new growth, stripped of its outer layer, is a tender treat. Be ready to taste-test multiple times to give salmonberry a chance to impress as it has been found that in a large thicket, many of the berries taste differently from one another.

Generally berries from the Rubus family (including thimbleberry and raspberry) are not toxic, but make sure you know what you are selecting is not poisonous.

Identification tip: When folded Salmonberry leaves resemble a butterfly!

Anna Beebe, 2019 KCD AmeriCorps Individual Placement

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