Rubus idaeus (Wild Red Raspberry)
|Also known as:||American Red Raspberry, Common Red Raspberry|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist to dry soil; open woods, woodland edges, meadows, lakeshores, roadsides, railroads|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||3 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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3 to 8 stalked flowers in loose clusters at the tips and upper leaf axils of 1-year-old stems. Flowers are white, 1/3 to ½ inch across with 5 mostly erect, oblong to narrowly spatula-shaped petals that tend to fall off early (deciduous). In the center is a cluster of many styles surrounded by a ring of numerous white stamens.
The 5 sepals are broadly triangular, tapering to a long, tail-like tip, longer than the petals, widely spreading and curving down (recurved), light green on the inner surface, the outer surface green to reddish and covered in glandular hairs. Flower stalks are up to 1 1/3 inch long, covered in glandular hairs with scattered stiff, slender bristles.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate and compound with 3 or 5 leaflets, mostly in 3s on flowering stems and pinnately in 5s on non-flowering stems. Leaflets are egg-shaped to oblong, the center leaflet is stalked and sometimes 2 or 3 lobed, the lateral leaflets stalkless and unlobed, typically 1½ to 3½ inches long, 1 to 2¼ inches wide, with a long taper to a slender, pointed tip and rounded to heart-shaped at the base. Edges are single or double toothed, the upper surface dark green, sparsely hairy to smooth, lower surface silvery and densely hairy.
Leaf stalks are covered in gland-tipped hairs and slender, stiff bristles that are straight to slightly curved or angled downward. At the base of the compound leaf stalk is a pair of appendages (stipules) that are ¼ to 1/3 inch long and narrowly lance-linear. New canes (primocanes) are green to reddish and densely covered in slender, stiff bristles mixed with softer, gland-tipped hairs, more so towards the tip. Second year canes (floricanes) produce the flowering branches, the canes dying before the third year but new canes emerging from spreading rhizomes.
Red Raspberry is ubiquitous throughout much of Minnesota and frequently found along roadsides and hiking trails. Its fruits are readily and widely decimated by both birds and mammals, resulting in widespread seed dispersal. It establishes quickly from seed, after which vigorous and aggressive rhizomes often create dense colonies. It is probably the most widely recognized and consumed wild fruit, though in deerfly season a head net is highly recommended. Native to both Europe and North America, our variety is var. strigosus, which has gland tipped hairs that are absent on the European var. idaeus.
Rubus is a large and difficult genus; both flowering (floricane) and non-flowering (primocane) stems from the same plant may be necessary for a positive ID. Characteristics to look for are the size and shape of the flower, whether there are glandular and/or non-glandular hairs (on sepals, leaves, stalks and/or stems), whether there are any broad-based prickles or slender bristles, number of leaflets and whether they are palmately or pinnately compound, whether the fruit easily separates from the receptacle, whether canes root at the tip. Red Raspberry has small flowers with mostly erect petals, glandular hairy and bristly all over, leaves pinnately compound in 5s (primocane) or 3s (floricane) that are silvery on the underside, the fruit easily separates from the receptacle, and canes do not root at the tips. Contrast with Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), which is generally a larger shrub, canes that arch and root at the tips, has scattered broad-based prickles, no bristles or glandular hairs, and the fruit does not easily separate from the receptacle.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Wild Red Raspberry plant
- Wild Red Raspberry plants
- more leaves
- non-flowering stems have mostly 5 leaflets
- silvery leaf underside
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Iona Beach SNA, Lake County, and St. Croix Savanna SNA, Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Lake and Ramsey counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?