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.