Herb: Thimbleberry

Latin name: Rubus parviflorus

Synonyms: Rubus nutkanus

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Thimbleberry:

The leaves are antiemetic, astringent, blood tonic and stomachic. An infusion is used internally in the treatment of stomach complaints, diarrhoea and dysentery, anaemia, the spitting up of blood and to treat vomiting. An infusion has been taken by women when their periods are unusually long. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves has been used to treat wounds and burns. The leaves have been crushed and rubbed over the skin to treat pimples and blackheads. A poultice of the leaf ashes, mixed with oil, has been used to treat swellings. The young shoots are alterative and antiscorbutic. The roots are appetizer, astringent, stomachic and tonic. An infusion has been used by thin people to help them gain weight. An infusion has also been used in the treatment of stomach disorders, diarrhoea and dysentery. A decoction of the roots has been taken in the treatment of pimples and blackheads.

Description of the plant:


2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Woodlands, canyons and open areas.

Edible parts of Thimbleberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. It makes excellent jams and preserves. The fruit can also be dried for later use. A sweet and pleasant flavour though this is not always properly developed in the cooler summers of Britain. The fruit is very seedy. Rich in vitamin C. The hemispherical fruit is about 20mm in diameter. Young shoots - peeled and eaten cooked or raw. The shoots are harvested as they emerge in the spring, and whilst they are still young and tender. They can be cooked like asparagus. The shoots are rich in vitamin C. Flowers - raw.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are used to line baskets etc for carrying soft fruit or other delicate items. Plants are very vigorous and can be grown as a tall ground cover for large areas. A soap is obtained from the boiled bark. A purple to dull blue dye is obtained from the fruit.

Propagation of Thimbleberry:

Seed - requires stratification, is best sown in early autumn in a cold frame. Sow stored seed as early as possible in the year in a cold frame and stratify for a month at 3C if sowing later than February. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring of the following year. Tip layering in July. Plant out in autumn. Division in early spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woodlands, canyons and open areas.

Known hazards of Rubus parviflorus:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.