Salmonberry – Rubus spectabilis


One of our earliest flowers and berries, the salmonberry signals that Summer is around the corner. The salmonberry is one of many iconic plants of the Pacific Northwest. Have you been seeing its bright pink blooms on your walks in early Spring?


The salmonberry is an early flowering shrub that provides a food source for native pollinators who are coming out of Winter. While the salmonberry doesn’t produce its berries until June/July, the blooms begin in early April. Salmonberry as an early food source is especially important for native pollinators and animals who are more familiar with native shrubs and habitats.


In the Snoqualmie Tribe’s native language, Lushootseed, the salmonberries are referred to as stəgʷəd. Salmonberries can be eaten as young shoots and cooked similarly to asparagus. While some might say that the berries taste too dry or bland, the salmonberries’ lack of sweet flavor makes them great for cooking with fish. The leaves can also be used medicinally as teas to treat diarrhea or as poultices to treat burns or other painful wounds.


Salmonberries love to grow near water sources, streams, and rivers. They are an important sign of a healthy riparian or wetland habitat, capable of supporting diverse species of animals. Knowing this, it is important to not remove them from their habitats. Salmonberries occasionally need to be pruned, but once they start growing they often quickly spread up and down waterways. Their sturdy and prolific growth helps to hold river banks in place while also shading the waters for aquatic life.


To learn more about this irreplaceable shrub of the Pacific Northwest follow the links below.

UW Bothell - Wetland and Greenhouse Plants

Rubus spectabilis – Salmonberry

At a Glance:

Family:  Rosaceae
Plant Type:  Erect deciduous shrub
Distribution:  Pacific Coast, California to Alaska
Habitat:  Moist woods and wetland buffers, at low to mid elevations

USDA Interactive PLANTS Maps - Salmonberry

Rubus spectabilis – Salmonberry

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
We are trying out a new mapping system for PLANTS, using dynamic, zoomable maps like many others on the web today. Rather than clicking on a state in a small-scale map to go to a separate map for that state showing counties, this new system allows the user to zoom in gradually, showing county-level distributions regionally to locally. This new mapping system will have more changes and improvements in the future.


Accompanying USDA Plant Guide for Salmonberry (PDF)

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center
Stevens, M., and D. Darris. 2000. Plant guide for salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plant Materials Center, Corvallis, OR.

Burke Museum Herbarium Image Collection - Salmonberry

Rubus spectabilis – Salmonberry

Burke Herbarium Image Collection – Vascular Plants, Macrofungi, and Lichenized Fungi of Washington
The Herbarium collections are an internationally renowned resource for research into the diversity, distribution, and ecology of Pacific Northwest vascular plants, nonvascular plants, fungi, lichen, and algae. The Herbarium also provides extensive online resources for researchers and members of the public.

The Herbarium collections currently include over 660,000 specimens. Faculty, staff, and graduate students are actively collecting throughout the Pacific Northwest and select regions of Central and South America. Between 5,000–10,000 specimens are added to the collections annually from our field work and an extensive exchange program, making us one of the largest and most active herbaria in the Pacific Northwest.


Lushootseed Pronunciation



Lushootseed Language Vocabulary provided by the Snoqualmie Tribe Culture Department.