University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
LESSER KNOWN BERRIES
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
There are several less common berry species
related to the popular raspberries and blackberries, and in the same
If you like to eat these common berries
and to grow your own fruit, and have the appropriate climate, then
you may want
to try these different berries that you often won’t find in stores.
At the least they’re worth knowing about as
you may see them in books, or their products online and in specialty
(R. spectabilis), a native of western
North America in zones 5-9 (to -20F degrees in winter), was a food
peoples who, it is told, ate these fruits with salmon. It is
related and similar to the raspberry,
only the canes are perennial not biennial, and the larger fruits
yellow to orange-red. They are borne on
shrubs anywhere from 3 to 12 feet high, in mid-summer in the Pacific
to late summer elsewhere. They may be
eaten raw, but often if tart are best in jams or cooked. It is a
vigorous shrub of streambanks and
temperate moist forests, and outside such areas might become
The Thimbleberry (R. parviflorus) is a relative of the
raspberry and looks like one
with red fruit in late summer on shrubs to 6 feet high. Unlike the
raspberry, fruit are tart so best
in jams; the shrubs have no thorns; leaves are large and
are quite large (hence another name of “flowering raspberry”); and
part shade and moist soils. When picked,
the fruit with hollow centers resemble a thimble. This hardy native
plant of the west (zones
3-9 or to -30F and below in winter) is found in the Plains up to
altitudes down to Mexico, and upper Midwest.
It had many uses by native peoples including boiling the bark for
soap, the leaves
for a medicinal tea, and powdering the leaves to apply to burns.
Current gardeners find it useful in edible
landscapes as an ornamental.
The dewberry is the name applied to a group of
several trailing blackberry species, often sweeter, and generally
growing as an
evergreen shrub in zones 5 to 9. The
southern species is often found growing along roads and railway
tracks. Native peoples of the South used it to make
dyes (so make sure not to get the juice onto clothes!). You may
find several cultivars of dewberry, ‘Austin’
and ‘Lucretia’ being perhaps the most commonly seen improved
Hybrids of the red and black
raspberries have resulted in several lesser known brambles, grown
mainly in the
Pacific Northwest and California since they aren’t very hardy
6 to 9 without protection, or to -10F degrees in winter). They have
trailing habits, and the fruit
clings to the central core (receptacle) similar to blackberries.
The Youngberry is a cross between a hybrid
and the Austin Mayes dewberry, first made in 1905 by a businessman
by this name
in Louisiana and introduced in 1926. The
hybrid he used, the Phenomenal Berry, was a blackberry and raspberry
by Luther Burbank. The youngberry is
trailing, with purplish-black fruit earlier than blackberries.
The Loganberry was made in the
early 1880’s in California by a horticulturist with this name. It
resulted from crossing the European red
raspberry cultivar ‘Red Antwerp’ with the American blackberry
The conical red fruit wasn’t flavorful, so not popular, but this
used in further breeding.
Crossing the loganberry with a
raspberry in Scotland in 1962 gave us the Tayberry, named after the
there. Its red fruit are larger and
sweeter than the Loganberry, and ripens mid-season.
A cross in the 1980’s in Scotland
between the tayberry and a hybrid seedling gave us the Tummelberry.
Its deep red fruit are conical, late in the
season, and retains the core when picked.
Similar to the tayberry is the Wyeberry, only it is more winter
tolerant of fluctuating temperatures, but quite thorny. It looks
like a red raspberry, tastes like
one with some boysenberry flavor, and has higher yields than many
but fruit may be hard to pick. It was
developed at the University of Maryland.
Many have heard of boysenberries,
most likely from syrups or jams, and in particular the ones that
Berry Farm famous. This fruit was a
3-way cross between the loganberry, a raspberry, and a blackberry.
1920’s, a berry farmer named Knott from southern California and the
breeder George Darrow (as in the Darrow and Olallie cultivars, among
visited the former farm in northern California of a man named
Boysen. There they found some vines Boysen had bred,
hidden among the weeds. Knott took
these back to his farm, nurtured and began cultivating them, and in
selling the popular large and tasty dark berries at his then farm
named them after their original source.
You may find plants both with or without thorns.
The wineberry (R. phoenicolasius) was introduced from
Asia both as an ornamental, and to breed with raspberries. It has
naturalized since then in the wilds in
many areas and has become invasive. The
Marionberry is actually just the cultivar Marion of blackberry
(named for the
county where it was tested in Oregon), being a hybrid of two other
blackberries. Similarly, the Olallieberry is the cultivar Olallie
Chinook name for berry) —a cross of youngberry and loganberry.
brambles, their culture, and cultivars can be found online
or from the Fruit Gardener’s Bible by
Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry.