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Berry Watch 2013 // Part 5: Western Black Raspberries

In late July, as I was strolling through the forest toward Third Beach, I came across a patch of western black raspberries (aka blackcap raspberriesRubus leucodermis to be exact). The raspberry branches are on the north side of Tatlow trail, just west of Park Drive.

 Here are the western black raspberry branches, photographed August 11. As I'll mention below, these raspberries are a bit past their prime!

Here are the western black raspberry branches, photographed August 11. As I'll mention below, these raspberries are a bit past their prime!

Just as the name suggests, western black raspberries are ripe when they are a purplish-black colour. They are similar in shape to thimbleberries – their drupes (the little bumpy parts on the exterior of the fruit) are smaller and more numerous than that of a conventional raspberry, and they have a broad, “cap”-like shape. I tasted a nice ripe black one – it was very tasty, but also super seedy!

But alas… how soon the summer fruits disappear! When I first came across the raspberries 12 days ago or so, there were several unripe red berries on the branch, along with a few ripe black ones - it was a berry patch so full of hope! When I checked back on them yesterday, most of the raspberries had disappeared – some had likely been picked by passers-by or eaten by wildlife, and others had simply ripened and rotted away. My camera had died when I passed the raspberry patch for the first time, so unfortunately, all I have to show you are are a few slightly overripe berries from yesterday. As you can see, they range from mouth-watering to macabre:

 Closeup of a western black raspberry cluster, past its prime and on the decline. There are cobwebs and everything!

Closeup of a western black raspberry cluster, past its prime and on the decline. There are cobwebs and everything!

In case you're curious about the leaf shape and stem-prickliness of the western black raspberry for identification purposes, here's what to look for: 

The leaf and stem of a western black raspberry branch.