Salmonberry | Rubus spectabilis


Parts Used: Fruit and Leaf

Appearance: Salmon berry is a tall shrub with dense thickets, a golden-brown bark and zigzagging twigs with scattered prickles. The leaves alternate with 3 leaflets at the end of each stem which are dark-green and sharply toothed. The flowers are pink to red and about 4 cm across on short stems. The fruits are yellow or reddish large juicy berries scattered throughout the shrub. They enjoy growing in moist to wet places in forests and disturbed sites, often abundant along stream edges, avalanche tracts and in wet logged areas. The reason why this shrub is called “salmon berry” is because the ripening berries serve as a sign that the spring salmon were ready to be fished. 

Harvesting Methods: Salmon berries are one of the earliest fruits to ripen in our region, typically from May-June. The young stem sprouts are also edible when peeled and are ready for harvesting in early spring through early summer as a green vegetable. The berries tend to be a bit mushy, especially after a heavy rainfall, so make sure not to fill your bucket too deep or else you may end up with a bucket of mush.

Medicinal Uses: the berries are high in vital nutrients that help maintain a healthy heart, muscle function and blood vessel integrity. Salmon berries contain Vit A, C & K, calcium, magnesium and flavonoids. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants that help reduce free radical inflammation in the body that can contribute to skin wrinkles, chronic fatigue, heart disease and cancer. The leaves also contain high levels of vitamins and minerals with the addition of selenium and iron. A tea of the leaves can be made to help ease PMS and support menses, rebuild muscle tissue and enhance nutrition.

Preparation: Visit the ‘Medicine Making’ page for more details

  • The berries can be eaten fresh off the shrub, frozen for later, or cooked down into a delicious jam or pie.

  • The fresh or dried leaves can be made into a nutritive tea as 1 tbsp dried herb (or 4-5 leaves) per 1 cup hot water up to 3x/day.

Cautions: Speak with your healthcare provider to ensure salmonberry leaf tea is safe for you.

Make Your Own Natural Medicine

Making your own medicine is a very empowering experience. Learn how to make your own medicinal teas, tinctures, salves, oils, poultices and compresses so you can heal yourself.