The prickly, shoulder high Wild Red Raspberry bush that you may be familiar with won’t bear fruit in our cottage country for 4-6 more weeks, but the dwarf raspberry is ready for the picking, if you know where to look and what to look for.
“Leaves of three – let it be”? That’s a good rule to keep your kids away from poison ivy, but there are so many plants with 3 leaves out there that it is worth getting to know a few of them. The Dwarf Raspberry, Rubus pubescens, is one such example. This low, trailing member of the Rose family tends to grow to about 3-5 inches in height and with its 3 sharply toothed leaves it is easily mistaken for a wild Strawberry. I tend to find them in shaded woods in moist soils. Their tiny fruit is smaller than the Wild Red Raspberry and more difficult to harvest, as it tends to cling to the stem more fiercely, and of course, since the plant is so small, there tends to be only 1 berry per plant. They are ripening right now, so don’t delay!
Here are two great resources to bring on your hikes to help you with plant identification:
• Forest Plants of Central Ontario; Lone Pine Publishing
• Peterson Field Guides – Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America
As with any wild plant:
• harvest/consume only those that you can identify positively
• when in doubt ask an expert in the area
• Learn to distinguish from any similar poisonous plant (if applicable)
• Sample sparingly at first to gauge individual sensitivities/allergies
• Understand which parts of which plants may be consumed as many edible plants have toxic parts/structures
• Harvest only when/where abundant
• Do not harvest plants that are endangered or in need of protection