Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Berries

I must admit, I am addicted to berries and there is no recovery program that can cure me.

In the summertime, I go to the Farmers' Market and buy two flats of berries at a time; one to freeze for winter and one to eat. I do this on a regular basis when the strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and blueberries are ripe.

I also like to forage in the woods for berries. Now flowering along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington, are the Timbleberry and Native Blackberry.


The Thimbleberry is native to western and northern North America. It is a dense shrub up to 2.5 m tall with canes 3-15 mm diameter, often growing in large clumps which spread through the plant's underground rhizome. Unlike most other members of the genus, it has no thorns. It produces a tart edible fruit which ripen to a bright red in mid to late summer. Like other raspberries it is not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core; the drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name.

Thimbleberry fruits are larger, flatter, and softer than raspberries, and have many small seeds. Because the fruit is so soft, it does not pack or ship well, so thimbleberries are rarely cultivated commercially. However, wild thimbleberries make an excellent jam which is sold as a local delicacy.

Native Mountain Blackberry

Do not confuse this blackberry with the weed that grows profusely in the Pacific Northwest. The native blackberries are quite different. They are ropey and creep on the ground except where supported by a shrub, boulder or fence. All blackberries with tall, self-supporting, thick and stiff canes are exotic weed species. The berries of the native plant are very small and require large quantities to make any substantial treat.

Many health benefits come from eating blackberries that are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins along with being a good source of the minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

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