WILD RED RASPBERRY
(Rubus strigosus) Rose family
Flowers - White, about 1/2 in. across, on slender, bristly
pedicels, in a loose cluster. Calyx deeply 5-parted, persistent
in fruit; 5 erect, short-lived petals, about the length of the
sepals; stamens numerous; carpels numerous, inserted on a convex
receptacle, and ripening into drupelets. Stem: 3 to 6 ft.
high, shrubby, densely covered with bristles; older, woody stems
with rigid, hooked prickles. Leaves: Compounded of 3 to 5 ovate,
pointed, and irregularly saw-edged leaflets, downy beneath, on
bristly petioles. Fruit: A light red, watery, tender,
high-flavored, edible berry; ripe July-September.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, rocky hillsides, fence-rows,
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Labrador to North Carolina, also in Rocky Mountain
Who but the bees and such small visitors care about the raspberry
blossoms? Notwithstanding the nectar secreted in a fleshy ring
for their benefit, comparatively few insects enter the flowers,
whose small, erect petals imply no hospitable welcome.
Occasionally a visitor laden with pollen from another plant
alights in the center of a blossom, and leaves some on the
stigmas in bending his head down between them and the stamens to
reach the refreshment; but inasmuch as the erect petals allow no
room for the stamens to spread out and away from the stigmas, it
follows that self-fertilization very commonly occurs.
Of course, men and children, bears and birds, are vastly more
interested in the delicious berries; men for the reason that
several excellent market varieties, some white or pale red, the
Cuthbert and Hansall berries among others, owe their origin to
this hardy native. Many superior sorts derived from its European
counterpart (R. Idaeus) cannot well endure our rigorous northern
climate. As in the case of most berry-bearing species, the
raspberry depends upon the birds to drop its undigested seeds
over the country, that new colonies may arise under freer
conditions. Indeed, one of the best places for the budding
ornithologist to take opera-glasses and notebook is to a
raspberry patch early in the morning.
The BLACK RASPBERRY, BLACK CAP or SCOTCH CAP or THIMBLE-BERRY (R.
occidentalis), common in such situations as the red raspberry
chooses, but especially in burned-over districts from Virginia
northward and westward, has very long, smooth, cane-like stems,
often bending low until they root again at the tips. These are
only sparingly armed with small, hooked prickles, no bristles.
The flowers, which are similar to the preceding, but clustered
more compactly, are sparingly visited by insects; nevertheless
when self-fertilized, as they usually are, abundant
purplish-black berries, hollow like a thimble where they drop
from the spongy receptacle, ripen in July. Numerous garden
hybrids have been derived from this prolific species also. Indeed
its offspring are the easiest raspberries to grow, since they
form new plants at the tips of the branches, yet do not weaken
themselves with suckers, and so, even without care, yield immense
crops. One need not stir many feet around a good raspberry patch
to enjoy a Transcendental feast.
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