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Western Thimbleberry
Rubus parviflorus
About Western Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) Nurseries Show All Photos Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry) is a species in the Rosaceae (Rose) family native to western and northern North America, from Alaska east to Ontario and Michigan and south to northern Mexico. It is widespread in California. It grows from sea level in the north, up to 2,500 meter altitude in the south of the range. It is a dense shrub up to 2.5 meter tall with canes 3-15 millimeter diameter, often growing in large clumps which spread through the plant's underground rhizome. Rubus is the genus of raspberries and blackberries, but unlike most other members of the genus, it has no thorns. The leaves are palmate, 5-20 centimeter across, with five lobes; they are soft and fuzzy in texture. The flowers are 2-6 centimeter diameter, with five white petals and numerous pale yellow stamens. It produces a tart edible composite fruit 10-15 millimeter diameter, which ripen to a bright red in mid to late summer. Like other raspberries it is not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core; the drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name; it is also said that it may get its name from the Thimble Islands in Connecticut, though it is rarely seen there.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb, Shrub

Max. Height
4 - 8.2 ft (1.2 - 2.5 m)

Upright, Spreading

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Moderate, Fast

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
White, Yellow

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Shaded, moist areas on the edge of woodland or forest, often in mountains

Part Shade

Elevation ?
-21' - 11201'

Annual Precip. ?
5.6" - 155.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 5.88"

Coldest Month ?
23.5° F - 52.0° F

Hottest Month ?
42.5° F - 77.6° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 29.33 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers moist, fertile soil with good drainage

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18

Companion Plants
Use with trees from its native range, such as Fir (Abies sp.), Pine (Pinus sp.), and Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Wildlife Attracted
Various birds are attracted to the fruits

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Pest Control
Prune in winter to control height and/or spread

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 3 mos. stratification may give satisfactory germination. Soaking in either 1% sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) 7 days or concentrated H2S04 20-60 mins., then 3 mos. warm and 3 mos. cold stratification may improve germination (USDA Forest Service 1974). Easily propagated from stem cuttings.

Common uses
Hedges, Bird Gardens

Other Names
Botanical Names
Rubus parviflorus var. velutinus

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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