The thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is one of the berry bushes in the rose family. It is the cousin of the raspberry and is related to the salmonberry, another Pacific Northwest native plant. Thimbleberries love to live in the open areas near stream banks. They also like to live in the partial shade at the edges of clearings. Growing these delicious berry bushes with their soft leaves will add a beautiful and tasty plant to the wetland garden.

Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden
Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden

Where Thimbleberry Bushes Grow

The thimbleberry is native to the west coast of North America down to Mexico and east towards Ontario. It loves to live in areas with ample rainfall and some sunshine. Thimbleberries are deciduous plants with palmate or maple-shaped leaves. They need light to grow, but the thimbleberry does do well in the disturbed and somewhat shady areas at the edge of a creek, pond, or clearing. The thimbleberry prefers to grow in deep and well-drained soil.

Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden
Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden

Using Thimbleberry Bushes in Home Landscaping

Use thimbleberry bushes as a tall and rangy background plant for smaller Pacific Northwest plants like sword ferns, lady ferns, and false lily of the valley. Since thimbleberry is not often cultivated, expect it to be a little wild and to extend outwards into the garden. By its third year, a thimbleberry bush will be at its full height.


Propagating Thimbleberry Bushes

Thimbleberry bushes are fairly simple to propagate. Take cuttings from stems or plant parts of the dormant root. Thimbleberry bushes also drop their berries and will grow from seed. Plant cuttings in well-drained soil that is somewhat sunny.

Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden
Growing Thimbleberry Plants in the Wetland Garden

Thimbleberry Bushes Are Edible and Useful Plants

The thimbleberry is one of the delights of late summer. Its flowers bloom in June and are rounded and white, quite similar to those of the strawberry plant. By August, the thimbleberry has developed short, deep red berries that are dry but flavorful. Eat the berries when they are slightly soft and they will have a lovely flavor similar to intense raspberry jam. In the time between blossoms and berries, the thimbleberry is also known for its soft and useful leaves. It can be used as toilet paper if required.

Native plants like the thimbleberry can be easy to grow and are well-suited to local conditions. The thimbleberry is the ideal plant to grow in places where the soil is often disturbed, such as locations near and small creek. It is an ideal complement to smaller native plants in the home landscape.