04.02.08–Traditional Medicines and Foods–Trailing Raspberry, Cloudberry, Nagoonberry

raspberry_trailing trailing_raspberry_fruit

Trailing Raspberry: (Rubus pedatus).

cloudberry_b&w cloudberry

Cloudberry: (Rubus chamaemorus).

nagoon_berry_b&w nagoon_berry_flower

Nagoonberry: (Rubus arcticus).

Other Names: five–leaved bramble (Rubus pedatus); salmonberry, knotberry, baked appleberry, akpik, ground mulberry (Rubus chamaemorus); wineberry, arctic raspberry, bramble dewberry (Rubus arcticus).

Rose Family: (Rosaceae).

Habitat and Range: Trailing raspberry (Rubus pedatus) is a common ground cover in coniferous forests from the Alaska Peninsula and south–central and southeastern Alaska to southern Oregon.

Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) inhabits bogs, tundra, and open forests from northern Alaska and the Yukon to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Nagoonberry (Rubus arcticus) grows in moist meadows, shady thickets, and stream banks from northern Alaska and the Yukon to British Columbia.

Trailing Raspberry, Cloudberry, and Nagoonberry: Rubus Miniatures with Maximum Flavor: The Rubus genus is the subclassification of the rose family that includes such well-known fruits as raspberries and blackberries. Trailing raspberry, cloudberry, and nagoonberry are miniature Rubus members that are often overlooked. Their delectable fruits, however, make them well deserving of attention.

Trailing raspberry, Rubus pedatus (pedatus, meaning ‘having feet’), is a dwarf evergreen creeper, and a common ground cover in coastal forests. Rubus chamaemorus (chamaemorus translates as ‘ground mulberry’) is generally called cloudberry in southern Alaska and salmonberry in northern areas. Since salmonberry is also a common name for the tall Rubus spectabilis, use of the botanical name is necessary to eliminate confusion.

Nagoonberry, Rubus arcticus, is a small species with pink blossoms, abundant from British Columbia northward.

Harvest Calendar: Spring to winter: evergreen leaves of trailing raspberry. Spring to summer: leaves of other species. Late summer to fall: fruits.

Physical Description: Trailing Raspberry: Rubus pedatus: a: grows to 3 inches high; b: fruit is red with 1 to 6 droplets, soft and tasty after frost; c: single leaf with deep divisions gives the appearance of 5 leaflets; d: flowers have 5 white petals; e: thin, creeping runners.

Physical Description: Cloudberry: Rubus chamaemorus: f: grows 4 to 8 inches high; g: male and female flowers are on separate plants. Male flowers have dwarfed pistils; female flowers have dwarfed stamens; h: flowers have 5 white petals, there is 1 flower per plant; i: each plant has 1 to 3 leaves; j: leaves are leathery, their overall shape is roundish. They are shallowly indented to form 5 lobes; k: fruit is red when unripe, soft and golden at maturity; l: stems are smooth.

Physical Description: Nagoonberry: Rubus arcticus: m: grows to about 6 inches high; n: fruit, botanically an aggregate, is made up of many drupelets; o: subspecies hybridize frequently, making leaves quite variable. Leaves may have 3 lobes… p: or be fully divided into 3 separate leaflets; q: flowers have bright pink petals; petals are variable in number.

Food Use: Trailing raspberry, cloudberry, and nagoonberry fruits are wonderful snacks and tasty additions to campfire pancakes and morning cereal. They make superior jams used alone or blended with more plentiful fruits, such as lingonberries and raspberries.

I’m especially fond of cloudberries whipped with yogurt, the dessert has a delightful orange–like flavor. In Nauriat Niginaqtuat, Anore Jones says aqpiks, the Inupiat name for Rubus chamaemorus fruits, are often mixed with oil and sugar and eaten after meals. For winter use, aqpiks are mixed with crowberries and dock leaves and stored in wooden kegs in cold cellars.

Flowers of all Rubus species can be added to salads as an edible garnish; the pink blossoms of nagoonberry, however, are extra sweet and delicious. I often nibble them while hiking. Nagoonberry fruits tend to be rock hard and unpalatable until cold weather arrives, sweetening and softening the fruits. The Alaska Wild Berry Guide and Cookbook reports nagoonberry fruits were sold by an Alaskan preserve company in the early 1970s for about $45 a pint. Nagoonberries or other Rubus fruits added to milkshakes.

Rubus leaves, used fresh or dried, can be steeped for a pleasant tea. Use alone or in herbal tea blends. To add an extra fruity tang, mix with mashed dried berries. In the winter, gather the evergreen leaves of trailing raspberry for a warming beverage.

MEDICINAL USE: A Yupik informant recommended drinking seedless cloudberry juice for hives.

CAUTION: Rubus leaves are slightly toxic when wilted. Use fresh or completely dried for teas.

Other: The miniature Rubus species make pleasing ground covers for shady portions of the home flower garden. Cloudberries favor moist areas; these hearty bog–lovers range from the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire to the peat bogs of Eurasia and the Arctic. In eastern Canada, one can find cloudberries for sale in the markets.

Discovering Wild Plants


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