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Rubus parviflorus (Western thimbleberry)
Glase, Terry

Rubus parviflorus

Rubus parviflorus Nutt.

Western Thimbleberry, Thimbleberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)


USDA Symbol: rupa

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

Western thimble-berry is an erect, unarmed, shrub, 1 1/2-5 ft. tall with gray, flaking bark; strong, flexible stems; large, shiny, maple-like, deciduous leaves; terminal clusters of white (sometimes pink-tinged) flowers; and red, raspberry-like fruit. Erect, unarmed shrub with palmately lobed leaves and raspberrylike fruits.

The genus Rubus, Latin name meaning “bramble,” includes cultivated raspberries and blackberries, as well as a host of wild species, including more than a dozen native to western North America. Thimbleberry derives its name from the shape of its fruit. The species name parviflorus means “small-flowered,” a curious choice for this shrub, whose flowers are among the largest in the genus. The fruits are important seasonal food for numerous birds and mammals, including bears, and are a welcome, if not inspired, trailside snack. Wild Red Raspberry (R. idaeus) has much smaller flowers, prickles on stem, and compound leaves with 3 or 5 leaflets, Black Raspberry (R. leucodermis) has recurved thorns, small white flowers whose sepals are longer than the petals, compound leaves, and black fruits.


From the Image Gallery

16 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 10 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Red, aggregated drupelets.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , IA , ID , IL , MA , MI , MN , MT , NM , NV , OR , SD , UT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , ON
Native Distribution: Ont. to n. MN & AK, s. to mts. of NM, AZ & CA
Native Habitat: Open, wooded hillsides; stream banks; canyons

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rocky soils.


Use Wildlife: Valuable to songbirds, game birds, and large and small mammals.
Warning: Plant has thorns or prickles.
Conspicuous Flowers: 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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Yellow-banded sphinx
(Proserpinus flavofasciata)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

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


Record Modified: 2022-12-12
Research By: TWC Staff

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