Native Plant of the Month: Salmonberry

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Salmonberry – Rupus spectabilis
It’s the time of year where the pink 5-petaled flowers of our native Salmonberry herald in the start of spring! Salmonberry is a common understory shrub found in a range of habitats here in the Pacific Northwest. From bogs and wetlands, coastal forests and disturbed areas, this highly adaptable species most commonly grows in the form of dense, woody thickets and is a staple of many wetland restoration projects. Salmonberry roots are helpful in deterring soil erosion.   

 
The most identifiable part of Salmonberry, the berries themselves, typically ripen between June and August. Mild in flavor and resembling the shape and structure of raspberries, salmonberries are enjoyed as much by wildlife such as birds or bears as it is by humans. The branches are light salmon-colored and have tiny splitter-sized thorns. The entirety of the plant plays an important role in its ecosystems as it serves as an important species for grazing by deer, elk, or rabbits and as a source of habitat and nesting space.
 
Salmonberry has also been culturally significant to Native populations who would use the plant for a variety of purposes. Leaves and bark had multiple different medicinal properties, from burn ointment to pain management. Young shoots could be steamed or eaten, and the berries, when in season, would accompany many dishes or provide flavoring.
 
For more information on this iconic Pacific Northwest native, check out these resources: