Foraging in Minnesota: Dwarf Raspberry

Every year about this time, the foraging season here in Minnesota has a lull. The early season has passed and the frenzy over morels, fiddleheads, and ramps is over. The summer mushrooms and berries really haven’t started. However, while raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries, and other members of the Rubus clan have yet to even finish blooming, their little brother is here to take center stage. 

Enter, The Dwarf.

Strawberries (left) with Dwarf raspberries (right)Rubus pubescens

The Dwarf Raspberry (Rubus pubescens) is a short plant, unlikely to dominate the plant community anywhere. Like its relatives, it will form colonies at times, but grows only inches high. 

Leaflets are arranged mostly in the proverbial “leaves of three.” They resemble raspberries or even wild strawberries more than they do poison ivy. They are fairly symmetrical with prominent veins, punctuated by regular teeth. R. pubescens often occupy the same spaces as strawberries, but their leaves are more reminiscent of raspberry leaves: more pointed, widest in the middle, and often downright rhomboid in my observations (Dwarf raspberries are on the right in this photo, with strawberries at left). 

If you’d like to set out to find Dwarf raspberries, you’re in luck: they’re widespread in Minnesota’s forested areas, and thrive in varied habitats. From full to partial shade, look in the woods and on the edges of forested and brushy areas. I find lots in the aspen/birch woods of North Central Minnesota. 

Harvest Prospects 

Minnesota foraging, wild raspberriesIn case you’re ready to head out for a hefty harvest, I must warn you that Dwarf raspberries will probably never offer enough to make even one jar of jam. Just like wild strawberries, they are not what I would call “prolific” producers. In fact, it seems that only a small proportion of the individual plants in the woods will even bear fruit. Also in my experience, harvestable berries will only grow as singles or doubles at most. Of course, that is only my own rather anecdotal observation; perhaps they do better in other habitats than my usual haunts.

Cooking and Eating

I usually spot a couple ripe berries in early summer as I cruise the woods on other errands, and will always stop and grab a berry if there is a ripe one available. At home, they could offer a bit of raspberry-like tang to a mixed berry jam. I have on occasion found enough to garnish a bowl of granola, but that’s about it. They are best thought of as an occasional snack in the woods. 


If you’re interested in learning about more foraged foods, visit the What to Forage page.


2 thoughts on “Foraging in Minnesota: Dwarf Raspberry”

  1. Good job Roy. We got raspberries in our back 40 but I don’t think they’re of the dwarf variety. We do have some black raspberries, which are not blackberries, too. We also got us some mulberries which kinda look like mulberries but are less tart. You keep on keeping us informed of your doings – I eagerly await the day you do a post on bowfishing.

    1. Looking forward to the upcoming black raspberry season myself, Chum. Some people call them “black caps,” but I think of them as black raspberries. You got bowfishing connections, I’d love to do a post and/or video log on it!

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