American Red Raspberry

Rubus strigosus

Herbs gallery - American Red Raspberry

Common names

  • American Red Raspberry

The American red raspberry (scientific name Rubus strigosus) is a type of raspberry part of the Rubus genre, found all across the North American continent. It is also known simply as the American raspberry. It is very closely related to the European raspberry (Eurasian Rubus idaeus) and has long been considered to be just a subspecies of it. This view has changed in time and it is usually considered to be a separate species today.

The American red raspberry plant has an interesting life cycle. Only the root system is perennial, while the stems (also known as canes) that emerge from it are biennial. The first year of a stem is a period of fast growth, up to the maximum length of 0.5 to 2 m. They don't develop any side branches during this time and have large-size leaves, consisting of 3, 5 or even 7 leaflets. It rarely produces flowers in the first year. During the second year there is no more growth but side branches appear, with a different type of smaller leaves consisting of three leaflets only.

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American red raspberry flowers are located on short racemes found at the end of the side branches. The bloom takes place at the end of spring and every flowers consists of five tiny white petals, no longer than 7 mm. The edible fruits ripen at the end of summer or start of autumn and have a diameter of about 1 to 1.2 cm. They have a red color, with a sweet and tart taste. Even though they are known as berries, the fruits are actually made up of many tiny drupes clustered together.

Because of their distinctive flavor, American red raspberries are widely eaten and extremely popular in the USA. They can be consumed raw but are also an ingredient in numerous desserts and other products. Raspberries are also known to pair well with many other fruits. Commercially, they are widely available in fresh, frozen or canned form. The most common prepared products are jellies and sauces.

Parts used

Fruits, leaves, roots.

Uses

Both the leaves and roots of American red raspberry are known to have various medical properties. They act like a general stimulant for the body and also have decongestant, ophthalmic, oxytocic, anti-inflammatory and astringent effects. These parts of the plant can be used to brew a tea as a diarrhea cure. The tea is also used by women in various ways: as a relief for pain during menstrual cramps and to strengthen the uterus during pregnancy and childbirth. The bioactive compounds of the tea have a double effect on the uterus, with tonic and relaxant action at the same time. It has strong effects and should be used with care, only during birth and three months in advance.

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The same parts of the plant can be prepared as a poultice to wash and treat wounds, varicose ulcers, sores, conjunctivitis and burns. As a gargle, they can cure inflammation inside the mouth and tonsillitis. The leaves keep their medical benefits even after they are dried, and are harvested and preserved during the summer months.

The fruits also have bioactive effects. They are diuretic as well as antiscorbutic, due to the high amount of vitamins. The juice is a very popular refreshment during hot summers, with a bit of honey added. It can also be prepared as a syrup, which is known for its benefits to circulatory health.

Red American raspberry doesn't provide just a delicious edible fruit, but also a potent medicinal tea. The tea is made from the leaves and has a pleasant taste. It can be applied externally, as a cure for skin rashes. Internally, it is an effective treatment against cystitis, diarrhea and menstrual cramps.

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The American red raspberry is a good treatment for heart problems, as well as a refrigerant and an astringent. Refrigerant compounds have the ability to decrease heart fever. Astringents, for example alum, cause body tissues to constrict. This is a very useful effect against many diseases, in order to stop bleeding or any other type of secretion in general. Raspberries had an additional use in Europe, during the seventeenth century. Back then, people prepared a juice against vomiting from the fruits, in order to profit from its antispasmodic effects.

Before the advances of modern medicine, the plant was a lot more important due to its effects on pregnant women. In the last 2-3 months before giving birth, women prepared their uterus by drinking red raspberry tea. It was also used for a few weeks afterwards, in order to help the uterus recover. This was back when normal childbirth was the only option.

A tea prepared from dried raspberry leaves can be consumed just like any herbal beverage, sometimes mixed with other plants. Leaves have to be harvested during the summer months and placed in airtight containers in dried form. The fruits have a lot of curative potential and some studies suggest their strong antioxidant action reduces overall inflammation, decreases the risk of brain damage or heart diseases and could even fight cancer.

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All berries are known to be packed with antioxidants, especially the much pigmented ones. In addition, they are very rich in vitamins and other bioactive nutrients. One strong anti-inflammatory compound, for which raspberries are one of the main natural sources, is ellagic acid. This acid can reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer. A flavanol named quercetin is able to fight cancers of the skin, as well as colon and mammary tumours. These effects were confirmed by tests made on animals.

American red raspberries are also very rich in vitamin C, like most fruits. In addition, a single serving provides between 25 to 35 percent of the recommended daily intakes of dietary fibers and manganese. The fibers found in the fruit include pectin, which can protect the heart and reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood due to its soluble nature.

In the wild, American raspberries are consumed by many animals. These include various birds, grouses, chipmunks, coyotes, squirrels, skunks and raccoons. The dense thorny bushes are useful as shelter for many species, especially as a hidden nesting space for small birds.

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Habitat and cultivation

The American red raspberry enjoys loamy soils with good drainage and can be planted in full sun or partially shaded locations. Some of the modern cultivated varieties descend from the American raspberry and it is still used for hybridization today. The perennial rootstocks generate a number of stems with a two-year life cycle. These produce fruits in their second year and then die and are replaced by new ones. Like all of its relatives from this genus, the plant is vulnerable to honey fungus.

Propagation can be done by seed but stratification is needed. It should be planted in a cold frame at the start of autumn. If seeds from storage are used, sowing should take place very early in the year, after one month of stratification at 3°C. As soon as the seedlings are large enough, prick them in a cold frame. At the end of spring, they can be relocated outside, in the desired position. Another option for propagation are cuttings. Semi-ripe wood should be used, planted in a cold frame during the summer, with tip layering in July. They can be relocated out in the autumn.

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