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Rubus odoratus (Purple-flowering raspberry)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Rubus odoratus

Rubus odoratus L.

Purple-flowering Raspberry, Thimbleberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A suckering shrub, 3-6 ft. high and 6-12 ft. wide which forms broad patches. Five-lobed, maple-like, dark green leaves become pale yellow in fall. Large, pinkish-purple flowers occur singly or in few-flowered clusters. Fruit is a broadly rounded, red to purple berry. Canes are thornless, yellow- to orange-brown, and exfoliating. This erect, shrubby, thornless plant has rose-lavender flowers in loose clusters; new branches have bristly hairs.

Thimbleberry (R. parviflorus), with very similar white flowers and similar but smaller leaves, occurs from Alaska to Mexico and northeast to Ontario. Baked-apple Berry (R. chamaemorus), is a dwarf form only 12" (30 cm) tall, with a solitary white flower, an amber-colored berry, and leaves similar to the above, but smaller. It is found on mountaintops in New England and northward into Canada. All other species in the East have compound leaves and usually spiny stems.


From the Image Gallery

41 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, aggregated drupelets.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: S. ME to MI, s. to NC & TN; also n. IL
Native Habitat: Moist, shady places; woods edges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Gravelly, sandy, or deep forest loams.
Conditions Comments: Thimbleberry spreads rapidly from creeping, underground stems and can become a nuisance, but is a striking plant for large wooded areas. Relatively immune to pests and diseases. Berries are insipid, but edible.


Use Wildlife: Very high for songbirds, game birds, and large and small mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Information about propagation by seed or cuttings is scarce because plants are so easily obtained by digging up suckers.
Seed Collection: Rubus fruits should be collected as soon as ripe to prevent losses to birds. The seeds can be extracted by macerating in water.
Seed Treatment: The hard, impermeable seed coat needs scarification. Both H2SO4 and sodium hypochlorite have been used. Scarification is sometimes followed by a complex combination of warm and cold stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Rubus odoratus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rubus odoratus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rubus odoratus


Record Modified: 2023-05-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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