Rubus spp  
Rubus occidentalis.  Photo taken on 5/17/04  at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.

Rubus occidentalis. Photo taken on 5/17/04 at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.

Scientific name : Rubus occidentalis
Common name : Black raspberry, wild black raspberry, black caps, black cap raspberry, thimbleberry, framboisier noir, framboisier d’Amerique
Family : Rosaceae
Origin : Native to eastern North America
Description : The canes of black raspberry attain lengths of 10 ft, but because they usually arch, generally attain heights of no more than 3 to 5 ft. The canes are covered with a whitish waxy sheen, and are often purplish. They are armed with hooked “thorns”. Under favorable conditions the cane tips root when they come in contact with the soil, and the species frequently forms thickets.
The leaves are compound, usually with three leaflets, but occasionally may have five. The leaflets are generally 2 to 3.2 inches long and are both whitish and downy beneath. The flowers are white and usually 0.4 to 0.6 inches across. The fruit is a little less than spherical (hemispherical) and is normally nearly black when ripe, but yellowish forms exist.
The canes of black raspberry attain lengths of 10 ft, but because they usually arch, generally attain heights of no more than 3 to 5 ft. The canes are covered with a whitish waxy sheen, and are often purplish. They are armed with hooked “thorns”. Under favorable conditions the cane tips root when they come in contact with the soil, and the species frequently forms thickets.
The leaves are compound, usually with three leaflets, but occasionally may have five. The leaflets are generally 2 to 3.2 inches long and are both whitish and downy beneath. The flowers are white and usually 0.4 to 0.6 inches across. The fruit is a little less than spherical (hemispherical) and is normally nearly black when ripe, but yellowish forms exist.
The canes of black raspberry attain lengths of 10 ft, but because they usually arch, generally attain heights of no more than 3 to 5 ft. The canes are covered with a whitish waxy sheen, and are often purplish. They are armed with hooked “thorns”. Under favorable conditions the cane tips root when they come in contact with the soil, and the species frequently forms thickets.
The leaves are compound, usually with three leaflets, but occasionally may have five. The leaflets are generally 2 to 3.2 inches long and are both whitish and downy beneath. The flowers are white and usually 0.4 to 0.6 inches across. The fruit is a little less than spherical (hemispherical) and is normally nearly black when ripe, but yellowish forms exist.
Distribution : Rubus occidentalis is found from Quebec to eastern Colorado south to Georgia and Arkansas. Within its range, it is most often found along the edges of woods, and in thickets, ravines, fence rows and in other unmanaged areas. The species is generally considered a zone 4 plant
Blooming period : Fernald[5] provides a flowering time range over the eastern U.S. of April to July, with the fruit ripening during June to August. In Michigan the flowers appear during May and June and the ripe fruit appears in July. An individual plant may flower from one to three weeks, but individual flowers usually last for only a day or so.
Importance : Where this plant is sufficiently common, either in the wild or under cultivation, there is little doubt that it can, and often does, make important contributions to honey production. Larsson and Shuel[7] rate the species on a 1 to 4 attractiveness to honey bee scale as a 4 (highest) and on a nectar secretion scale of 1 to 3, they rate it as a 2, indicating that it is a “good nectar producer, sometimes giving a surplus”.
Honey potential : McGregor[10] provides the information that individual flowers can produce 13 mg of nectar.
Honey : Larsson and Shuel[7] state that the honey is white to light amber with a light and delicate flavor and is of high quality. See also discussion under ‘Rubus—the brambles’
Pollen : The pollen is generally considered to be white or at least whitish.
Additional information : Much of the commercial black raspberry stock has been derived from this species. See also the pollination discussion under ‘Rubus spp.' For those interested in planting for bees, this species not only has the potential for providing nectar for the bees, but also an additional income from the fruit. Honey and raspberries in the correct setting, a farmers market, for example, are natural complementary products. Raspberries drizzled with honey in milk are delicious and good for you.
Reference : 1. Ayers, G. S. and J.R. Harman. 1992. Bee Forage of North America and the Potential for Planting for Bees. Inventory and Relative Importance of Nectar and Pollen Plants of North America. In The Hive and the Honey Bee, (J. M. Graham Editor). Dadant and Sons. Hamilton, IL.
2. Billington, C. 1977. Shrubs of Michigan. Cranbrook Institute of Science. Bulletin 20 (Second Edition). Cranbrook Institute of Science. Bloomfield Hills, MI.
3. Burgett, D. M., B. A. Stringer and L. D. Johnston. 1989. Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Honeystone Press. Blodgett, OR.
4. Crane, E. P. Walker and R. Day. 1984. Directory of Important World Honey Sources. International Bee Research Association. London.
5. Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany (8th Ed.). D. Van Nostrand Company. New York.
6. Howes, E. N. 1979. Plants and Beekeeping. Faber and Faber. London.
7. Larsson, H. C.and R. Shuel (C. D. Scott-Dupree, Ed.) 1990. Nectar Trees, Shrubs and Herbs of Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Publication 82. Queen's Printer for Ontario.
8. Lovell, H. B. 1966. Honey Plants Manual. A Practical Field Handbook for Identifying honey Flora. A. I. Root Co. Medina, OH.
9. Lovell, J. H. 1926, Honey Plants of North America. A. I. Root Co. Medina, OH.
10. McGregor, S. E. 1976. Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants. Agricultural Handbook No 496, Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington DC. This publication is being updated and is available on the web at: gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book.
11. Pammel, L. H., and C. M. King. 1930. Honey Plants of Iowa. Iowa Geological Survey Bulletin Nol 7. State of Iowa. DesMoines.
12. Pellett, F. C. 1978. American Honey Plants. Dadant and Sons, Hamilton, IL.
13. Root, A.I. and E. R. Root. 1920. The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. The A. I. Root Company, Medina, OH.
14. Rehder, A. 1990 copy. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs Hardy in North America. Dioscorides Press. Portland, OR.
15. Scullen, H. A and G. A. Vansell. 1942. Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon. Oregon State Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 412. Oregon State University. Corvallis, OR.
16. Staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, 1976. Hortus Third--A Concise Dictionary of the Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York.
17. Staff of The Morton Arboretum. 1990. Woody Plants of The Morton Arboretum. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, IL
18. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA

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