Wild Red Raspberry
Rubus idaeus L.
Family: Rosaceae, Rose
Genus: Rubus
Other names: American red raspberry
Nomenclature: idaeus = from Mount Ida
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant

General: strong perennial with sparsely to copiously bristly and prickly branches about 1-2 m tall, the bark mostly yellow to cinnamon-brown, peeling off in layers. Flowering branches non-glandular to more or less with bristly or stalked glands and otherwise with or without hairs.

Leaves: alternate, palmate with 3-5 leaflets that are ovate to broadly lanceolate, 4-10 cm long, pointed, irregularly double sharp-toothed, greenish and hairless to stiff-hairy on the upper surface, usually grayish-woolly but sometimes greenish and almost hairless beneath. Stipules linear-awl-shaped, 4-10 mm long, often dropped soon.

Flowers: nodding, 1-4 in small clusters from upper leaf axils. Petals white, erect or ascending, narrowly oblong to oblong-spatulate, 4-6 mm long. Calyx more or less woolly and non-glandular or with bristly or stalked glands, the lobes bent back, lanceolate, mostly 4-8 mm long. Stamens 75-100, the filaments somewhat flattened, hairless. Many pistils with slender, hairless styles. Ovary woolly-hairy. May-July.

Fruits: drupelets forming red, juicy, finely woolly-hairy raspberries, about 1 cm across.


Stream banks and open, moist or dry woods to rocky montane slopes, often on talus, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from AK and most of Canada to CA, AZ, NM, MN, TN, NC and n. Mexico, and in much of middle and n. Eurasia.
Edible Uses

The fruits - raspberries - are delicious when eaten out of hand, they are also used in pies, preserves etc. The roots are edible too, when cooked. They should be neither too young nor too old, and require a lot of boiling. Young shoots can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. They are harvested as they emerge through the ground in the spring and while they are still tender. A herb tea is made from the dried leaves. Another report says that a type of tea made from raspberry and blackberry leaves is an excellent coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses

The leaves and roots are anti-inflammatory, decongestant, stimulant, and have agents that cause tissue to contract, that promote healing for disorders and diseases of the eye, promote labor contractions and supports ability to suckle young. A tea made from them is used in the treatment of diarrhea, as a tonic for the uterus to strengthen pregnant women, and as an aid in childbirth. The tea has also been shown as effective in relieving painful menstrual cramps. The active ingredients both stimulate and relax the uterus. They can be used during the last three months of pregnancy and during childbirth, but should not be used earlier. Externally, the leaves and roots are used as a gargle to treat tonsillitis and mouth inflammations, as a poultice and wash to treat sores, conjunctivitis, minor wounds, burns and varicose ulcers. The leaves are harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The fruit has agents effective against scurvy and that induce urination. Fresh raspberry juice, mixed with a little honey, makes an excellent refrigerant beverage to be taken in the heat of a fever. Made into a syrup, it is said to have a beneficial effect on the heart.

Other Uses

A purple to dull blue dye can be obtained from the fruit. A fiber obtained from the stems has been used in making paper. The stems are harvested in the summer after the fruit has been eaten, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibers can be stripped. The fibers are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then hand beaten with mallets or ball milled for 3 hours. The paper is light brown in color. A decongestant face-mask made from the fruit is used cosmetically to soothe reddened skin.

Sub taxa:

ssp. idaeus L.:
Plants non-glandular. Mainly Eurasian, occasionally escaped from cultivation in N. America.

ssp. strigosus (Michx.) Focke:
Plants glandular, common throughout the range.

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