Thimbleberry is a type of thick shrub common in Northern California forests. The plant is common throughout western and northern North America, from Alaska east to Ontario and Michigan, and as far south as Mexico. There are some differences and lots of confusion between these types of plans:

  • Moss
  • Bush
  • Shrubs - Thimbleberry
  • Ferns

Thimbleberry Structure

The shrub grows to no taller than 2.5 meters in height. There are no needles or self-protective pricks on the plants, which makes it easier to pick the berries. The shrub has leaves up to 20 centimeters across, with five lobes. Thimbleberry leaves feel soft and fuzzy. They have small flowers which grow as few centimeters in diameter, with five white petals.

Thimbleberry Berries!

The berries from the Thimbleberry shrubs are edible, which is something everyone likes to discover. These berries ripen in mid to late summer and become bright red. This is the right time to eat them. Get to these berries before the birds do. But don't eat too many and save some for the birds because the berries are part of their natural habitat and diet.

An interesting fact about thimbleberries is that the reason they are not such a common part of the North American diet as other types of berries is that they simply do not ship well due to the structure of the berry and the plant. If they did, these plants might have been much more engrained into North American folklore than they currently are. Just like the raspberry, these plants are part of the rose family, so they are quite similar to the things we currently find on our dinner table already.

Thimbleberry Ecology

Thimbleberry plants usually grow from sea level, up to 2,500 meters of altitude. They are commonly seen along roadsides, railroad tracks, and in forest clearings. They are one of the first plants to appear during re-growth of forest areas and as an early part of the ecological succession in clear cut and forest fire areas. In that type of adaptation they are much like the Coyote Brush which is also one of the first plants to begin growing after an area has been cleared.

Thimbleberry in Bay Area Parks

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