Purple-flowered Raspberry – Rubus Odoratus: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Underrated Wild Raspberry

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Purple-flowered raspberry (rubus odoratus) is common around Haliburton county, Ontario. You’ll typically find this edible and medicinal shrub on bushy roadside banks in sandy, gravelly and rocky ground. It’s a shrubby thornless raspberry that looks like a maple (due to the shape of its large leaves) and a rose (showy pink-purple flowers) more so than a bramble. Most of us are puzzled when we first see it in the wild! This headscratcher could be confused with maple saplings or bush cranberries or its relation roses.

Purple-flowered Raspberry – Rubus Odoratus
Purple-flowered Raspberry – Rubus Odoratus

Edible Uses of Purple-flowered Raspberry

This edible raspberry is the last bramble berry to ripen in our area, mid-late September being peak time. The same time American spikenard berries are good for the plucking.

Some of its bland reputation is from being plucked off forcibly and too early. When it’s fully ripe the fruit will pop right off. To my surprise the ripe fruit was pleasant tasting. If you cultivate enough of them, you could use the seedy berries in jams and jellies, syrups, and baked goods.

Medicinal Uses of Purple-flowered Raspberry

Purple-flowered raspberry is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Integumentary

Medicinal tags include Astringent and Diuretic. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes as an astringent for conditions like diarrhea. It’s a lesser used bramble but usage mirrors wild red raspberries.

Alternative Uses of Thimbleberry 

The berries make a blue to purple dye.

Like some native ferns we’ve posted before, raspberries can be used to crowd out some invasive species. But like all raspberries they will spread and can be aggressive in lawns.

Purple-flowered Raspberry – Rubus Odoratus
Purple-flowered Raspberry – Rubus Odoratus

Growing Rubus Odoratus

Of all our brambles, this native raspberry shrub has the showiest flowers. At a glance they look like native roses, a close relative.

Like all rubus spp. new shoots fruit on their second year, so be careful not to trim them. Other tricks to get more fruit than usual are to plant a few of them and in full sun. They like the acidic soil around Haliburton, Ontario. As is typical with brambles, they will want to take over a lawn, but the wildlife will love them. You can find purple flowering raspberry at native plant nurseries or grow it from divisions.


And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

#ads in References

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Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries (Regional Foraging Series)

Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants

The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

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