bee forage

Native bee forage: salmonberry

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) is native to the coastal areas of northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. The fruits look like yellow raspberries, sometimes with a red tinge, but they are delicate and soft. The flavor varies with local populations: sometimes they are sweet and tempting, other times they are bland and flavorless. Nevertheless, both berries and young stem sprouts were treasured by native peoples.

The plants grow along streams and in disturbed wet areas. The pink flowers are striking and well-attended by native bumble bees, mason bees, and honey bees. By May and June the ripe fruit attracts many woodland birds. If you want to make a jar of jam, you need to work quickly because the soft fruit is short lived and soon falls apart.


Honey bee on salmonberry flower

Salmonberries that ripen in the sun develop a reddish tinge.

Salmonberry jam. Yummy.

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  • Hello – I am curious about something and would love a dialogue with someone knowledgeable about this subject. What are the ethics surrounding buying bumble bee colonies to promote pollination of an urban garden? (they would be native of course)

    • I see no problem with buying bumble bee colonies. It is basically no different than buying honey bee colonies.

  • Thannk you so much for this. We had 1 small patch of salmonberries in our garden here in the Western Isles of Scoltand when we moved in. They are considered an invasive species in some parts of the islands, and unfortunately are even being sprayed with glyphosate in our only large woodland here 🙁 but based on permaculture principles, I have kept them and was trying to find out about eco-services they provide, when I came across this article. Apparently they have been used in the Orkney Islands as the middle component of a 2-row willow windbreak, in which 1 row is coppiced every 2 years, and the salmonberry fills gaps in the windbreak in summer, as well as produing berries earlier than our native brambles. Now I know they feed bees, I’ll be trying this out for sure, thanks again.