Spectacular Salmonberries

Salmonberry blossoms

Salmonberries are one of the showiest of our native shrubs, truly living up to the species epithet in Rubus spectabilis. I don’t know of any other west coast blackberry, raspberry, or related plant with more spectacular flowers than Salmonberry. It’s a bonus that they bloom early, before many of our other flowers.

This ubiquitous plant thrives in moist forests and forest edges on the west side of the Cascades from British Columbia down to California.

Salmonberry flower buds

Salmonberry blossoms open about the same time as the leaves unfurl, starting as tightly-wrapped buds in the leaf axils.

Salmonberry flower bud

As the buds begin to open, just the tiniest bit of pink gives a hint of the showy blossom to come in a day or two.

Salmonberry foliage above flower bud

The slowly emerging petals look a bit like an other-worldly tongue sticking out from sepal lips.

Salmonberry blossom

Finally, the blossom is fully open and ready to be pollinated by visiting hummingbirds and insects. The flowers are self-incompatible, which means they require pollen from another plant.

It’s still too early for fruit, but once they develop they’re an early season woodland treat. Personally, I don’t think they’re the best tasting of our wild fruits, but they make up for it in quantity and juiciness. I’ll be watching the plants in our woods and woodland border for the first ripe fruit in a few weeks.

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