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Rubus odoratus

Flowering raspberry, purple-flowering raspberry, thimbleberry

Plant Details

Common Name: Flowering raspberry, purple-flowering raspberry, thimbleberry
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Mature Height: 2 - 5'
Sun Requirement: Sun, Sun to part shade, Part shade to shade, Shade
Moisture Requirement: Dry - medium, Medium - moist, Moist
Flower Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Early summer (June - July), Mid summer (July - August)
Seed Collection Date: Early summer (June - July), Mid summer (July - August)

Rubus odoratus Purple flowering raspberry
Rubus odoratus Purple flowering raspberry
Rubus odoratus Purple flowering raspberry

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Rubus is Latin for bramble, blackberry or raspberry; odoratus  is Latin for fragrant, in reference to the fragrant flowers and foliage of this plant.

Native Habitat

Flowering raspberry is found in moist areas at the edge of forests, in open woodlands, in shaded fencerows and thickets, along ridges or ledges and in disturbed habitats. It grows in gravelly, sandy or deep forest loams. It is found from Maine west to Michigan, south to the mountains of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, then north to Maine. It also occurs in Canada from Ontario east to Nova Scotia.

Garden Uses

Flowering raspberry requires little maintenance, produces long-lasting flowers and large green foliage and has a lovely fragrance. It is also relatively immune to pests and diseases. Unlike other plants in the genus, flowering raspberry is thornless and makes a friendly addition to the garden. Keep in mind that it can form a colony, so make sure to give it adequate space. For this reason, it is an excellent choice for erosion control. Once established this plant can bounce back from winter abuse delivered by a snowplow.


This plant is a beautiful, low-maintenance shrub that boasts long-lasting flowers, large vibrant green foliage, and edible berries. It can grow up to 5' high but tends to spread rhizomatically, forming thickets 4' to 12' wide. Lobed, maple-like leaves are fragrant when touched and turn pale yellow in fall.

Leaves and Stems

Large green alternate leaves measure 4" to 8" wide and long. The palmate leaves are maple-shaped with usually 5 (sometimes 3 to 7) lobes and turn pale yellow in the fall. The stems are upright, grayish on new growth and brown on older branches with peeling bark. Unlike other members of the Rubus genus, the canes are thornless and instead have bristly hair.


Flowers measure 2" to 3" across, with five rosy, pink petals and a white center. The sepals, pedicels and upper stems have glandular hairs on them. The flowers have a somewhat sweet odor.


Fruits are broadly rounded, red to purple berries that are edible, though not as flavorful as other members of the Rubus genus.

Animal Associates

Flowering raspberry is host to 161 caterpillar species including the scribe moth, io moth, hoary pinion moth, isabella tiger moth, wavy-lined moth, white-line sphinx, blinded sphinx and hickory tussock moth. It has special value for songbirds, game birds, and large and small mammals, as well as native bees, bumble bees and honey bees.


This plant is easily propagated by digging up suckers. For seed propagation, collect the fruits as soon as they are ripe to prevent losses to birds. The seeds can be extracted by macerating the fruit in water. The hard, impermeable seed coat needs scarification.

Garden Location

Residential Garden (see garden map)


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Maine Audubon

US Forest Service “Celebrating Wildflowers”

Plant Profile by Rachel Emus