Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) are very watery and, I believe, are best eaten directly off the stem. Leonard and I recently enjoyed nibbling salmonberries while hiking the Carruthers Cove Trail in California’s Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Salmonberries are not particularly flavorful, yet are still a nice trailside snack.
An erect shrub, salmonberry stems arise from branching rhizomes and often form dense thickets. The plant is largely unarmed (no thorns) with only a few scattered prickles. The bark is golden brown and shredding.
This native has alternate, deciduous, dark-green compound leaves. Salmonberry leaves usually have three leaflets and are sharply toothed.
The cup-shaped flowers have five pink to deep reddish (magenta) petals and many stamens and pistils. The five sepals are hairy and sharply pointed.
Salmonberry fruits are yellow to orange. Each of the many pistils becomes are drupelet (small fleshy fruit with one pit containing the seed) and together the drupelets form the berry.
Salmonberries grown in moist to wet places (stream edges, forests and disturbed sites) below 4,500 feet and are found on the western slopes of coastal mountains from Alaska to California. They also occur in Idaho.
In addition to eating the berries, Native Americans also ate the peeled shoots, raw or steamed.
Rubus, the genus name, is the Latin name for blackberry or bramble-like plants and derives from “ruber” meaning “red”. The species means “spectacular” in Latin.