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Rubus parviflorus, commonly called thimbleberry, (also known as redcaps) is a species of Rubus native to northern temperate regions of North America. The plant has large hairy leaves and no thorns. It bears edible red fruit similar in appearance to a raspberry, but shorter, almost hemispherical. It has not been commercially developed for the retail berry market, but is cultivated for landscapes. It is a dense shrub 2-8 feet tall (usually ~3 feet) with canes no more than 1/2 inch in diameter, often growing in large clumps that spread through underground rhizomes.

Natives ate the young shoots, raw in early spring.  The berries were eaten fresh, mixed with other berries.  Some tribes collected unripe berries and stored them in baskets or cedar-bark bags until ripe; others dried them like salal berries, although some considered them too soft for drying.  The large leaves made handy containers for collecting berries and were also used for wrapping and storing elderberries.  The boiled bark was used as soap.  Today the berries, considered too seedy for jam, are sometimes made into jelly.  Dried, powdered leaves were applied to wounds and burns to prevent scarring.  A tea was made from the leaves for medicinal purposes. Hikers call it the soft fuzzy leaves “nature’s toilet paper.”


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