FOTL’s berry bonanza continues unabated. The other day I happened upon what is perhaps my favorite of all the wild Rubus: the western raspberry, or blackcap (Rubus leucodermis). Closely related to the eastern raspberry, it tastes a lot like a cultivated raspberry, with a nod to blackberries and other wilder instincts. In fact, a ripe blackcap could almost be confused for a kinder, gentler blackberry, were it not for its shape—it parts from the bush with the typical thimble-like shape of a raspberry, and like its cultivated kin, the texture is velvety soft.

I don’t see wild raspberries very often. In the PNW, they seem to favor the sort of areas most hikers try to avoid: clearcuts, old burns, and other disturbed areas with full exposure. On this particular hillside I probably could have picked a coffee cup’s worth if I had wanted to trudge up and down among the burned stumps and kinnickkinnick. Rarely do I see them in shady oases. It might be time to learn more about these berries because they’re so tasty. If you pick a lot of blackcaps, give FOTL a holler; I’m not interested in your secret spots, just the general conditions and berry densities you’ve encountered.

6 thoughts on “Blackcaps

  1. chiefseth

    I think I may have seen a few blackcaps on the sandy bluff trails at discovery park; definietly not enough to fill a coffee cup. A few weeks ago I encountered a few sparsely loaded canes on the road side as I waited for a sub to pass the hood canal bridge in Jeff county.

  2. Paul

    We have a few blackcap bushes in our yard near Woodinville. The season this year was roughly mid-July through mid-August. I guess we have enough at peak to collect an espresso cup, but who knows? My 2-1/2 year old son and I compete to see who can stuff them into our mouths faster. OK, that’s not quite literally true, but certainly they get eaten as fast as they are picked. I have the advantage because blackcaps are climbers, so much so that some of the berries were well above my reach.

  3. Finspot

    Chiefseth: From what little I know, sandy bluffs sound like reasonable habitat. I tend to find them more often in the mountains, on open slopes, but don’t see why they wouldn’t be at sea level like most other Rubus berries. Just wish I could get more quantity.

    Paul: Did you plant the blackcaps? That may be the way to go. Cultivated blackcaps and raspberries. Though it’s fun to find them in the wild. Good to hear your son is getting his fill!

  4. t-mos

    fin, been in MT for a week and a half. i’ve clearly been missing out. ‘cept for the blackberries, we’ve got enough to feed a town in the backyard. anyways, nicely done! the berries, the recipes, the fish, the chantys…all around top notch action.

  5. hyakchris

    I have successfully grown a good bunch in a native plant restoration berm on our property at Hyak. Wide open sun all day with good drainage and have been munching on them all summer although they are not as abundant lately. A better year for them than huckleberries!

  6. Dan B.

    Look for relatively new (2-4 year) clear cuts with good sun exposure, which are not that common this day and age. Immature plants will be tall and spindly, with greenish silver leaves. More mature and fruiting plants will be thicker, with dead canes around the base. I have had good luck on both East and West slopes of the Cascades, from 2,000′ to 4,000′. Absolute best simple freezer jam in the world.


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