Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the July 19, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

In my friends' orchard luscious cultivated blackberries are coming online and out in the mountains, especially along rocky roadsides, you can start picking "wild raspberries" -- more formally known as Blackcap Raspberries, RUBUS LEUCODERMIS, seen below:

Blackcap Raspberry, RUBUS LEUCODERMIS

This is an easy-to-identify species. You know that what's in the picture is a raspberry and not a blackberry, which belongs to the same genus, Rubus, because of how the black "berry" between my fingers separates so neatly from the white, conelike "core" to the fruit's right, leaving the pulpy fruit hollow. In contrast, when you pick a blackberry the white "core" remains inside the blackberry, and you eat it. The "berry" leaving behind its "core" is what makes a raspberry a raspberry. This particular species is further distinguished by its whitish leaf undersurfaces.

Above I place the word "berry" within quotation marks because botanically blackberries and raspberries aren't berries. Technically a berry is a pulpy fruit resulting from a single pistil, but not containing a true stone like a plum. The tomato, then, technically, is a berry. Blackberry and raspberry fruits are known technically as "aggregate fruits," for they derive from flowers with more than one pistil -- the pistil being the female part composed of stigma, style and ovary. A diagram showing this arrangement can be reviewed at http://www.backyardnature.net/frt_aggr.htm.

Though they don't have much taste to them, often I snack on Blackcap Raspberries as I hike along. Mostly I leave them for wildlife. Nowadays black berry-pulp is starting to show up in bear poop, and often families of California Quail are seen orbiting around blackberry thickets. This raspberry species is a fine native plant distributed from British Columbia south to Mexico's Baja California, east to Montana and Nevada.