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American Red Raspberry, you’re native in the states.
For luscious berry treasures, we longingly await.

A thorny bush of shelter you motherly provide
small plant and animal protection under and inside.

When birthing a baby, Fu Pen Zi leaf tea
will aid in and shorten a mother’s delivery.

Dried Rubus strigosus leaves smell like black tea.
There’s no nervous jitter because you’re free from caffeine.

You’re sweet, dry, and astringent, and slightly cooling too.
Your dark green topped leaves with an under silver hue.

Beyond the sweet berries that we so love to eat,
the birds, bees, and butterflies find your flowers quite sweet.

If your USDA plant zone is 4,5,6,7,or 8,
these shrubs are deer-resistant – isn’t that great?!?

They provide so much love and they’re easy to grow
so find a sunny spot and plant a hedge row.

My Shamanic Life podcast logo
Episode 125

My Shamanic Life Podcast

Hosted by Debbie Philp

My dear friend Sheri Kurdakul, a student of clinical herbalism, joins me for this episode to share about why you should change your perspective on red raspberry, a prickly plant with benefits for both humans and the ecosystem. After speaking with Sheri, I reconsidered my response to some sad climate news that broke this week. I hope you, too, are inspired to be more like red raspberry. Give us a listen! 👂

LISTEN HERE
Red raspberry leaves
Rubus idaeus L. ssp. strigosus

Raspberry | They Come In Brambles

Beyond the grocery aisles in the spring, raspberry has more to offer than jelly and jam. It is a protective home for wildlife, pregnant mamas, and their unborn children.

Rubus strigosus, also known as Raspberry, American Red Raspberry, or Red Raspberry, have soft berries that are a treat to eat. They bloom in early spring and then again in the fall, and the brambles, when blooming, are usually filled with bees! 🐝

They are easily identified by the 3 to 5 doubly-serrated leaflets (jagged looking edges) that are dark green on the top, and silvery and fuzzy on the underside. They have prickly canes (stems) that will grow for two years, then die off, pushing out side shoots (I call them children) that help form a bramble – a rough, tangled, prickly shrub.

FUN FACTS

  • Raspberries aren’t really berries or fruits at all! They are made up of tiny drupes that are held together as a hollow cone shape. It’s okay, we don’t judge if you want to call them berries. 
  • When you dry their leaves and grind them up, they smell like black tea.
  • An infusion of the dried leaves tastes like a mild black tea and (BONUS) there is no caffeine.
Me holding a raspberry branch showing the silvery underside of the leaves
Recipe

Womanly Support

In my experience, this herb holds a special place for women, being nurturing to all the stages of feminine Moon cycles: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. If you have been subject to abusive situations, raspberry can guide you back to your own sense of self-trust.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 TBSP dried, ground red raspberry leaf
  • 1 pt. hot water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Boil a pint of water
  • Add the raspberry leaf in a tea ball or bag
  • Pour the boiling water over the ball/bag and steep for 10-15 minutes
  • Enjoy!
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Basket of dried raspberry leaf
Drying

From Bramble To Cup

Raspberry understands that they may be called upon throughout the year. While it can be a semi-evergreen plant, it is most generous from late spring through the fall.

When harvesting the leaves (or the berries), be mindful that you are not the only one in need. Many creatures call this bramble their home. 🐝

Pick large leaves that are green on the top and silver underneath. Avoid young shoots to ensure the shrub can sustain itself. Avoid picking all the leaves from one cane or one spot – pick a few and move on to another location in the bramble.

I use a large wide basket to dry mine, but you can do it in an oven too.* It takes about a week in an air-conditioned room (A/C tends to reduce the humidity and make drying times quicker than fan-cooled rooms).

Once dry, put them in a food processor and grind them up until everything is evenly sized. If you only picked leaves to begin with, you won’t have to worry about stems in your leaf. Make sure they are really dry or they will mold in storage.

Store the ground raspberry leaves in a glass jar with a tight lid and use in your teas.

*170°F – lay herbs flat on a cookie sheet or pizza tray and check dryness every 10 minutes until crispy

Native Ecology

Raspberries are like a town center for many species. The bramble thicket provides a protective barrier for wildlife such as chipmunks, mice, squirrels, raccoons, snakes, and small birds often use it as a nesting location.

Pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enjoy the flowers’ nectar. Some native bees even use the thorns as nesting material.

The berries are a favorite for bears and skunks, as well as humans.

From a homeowner’s perspective, raspberries provide a multi-functional shrub that is deer resistant!

Herbal Actions & Medicinal Uses

Below is some basic herbal information based on Western Herbalism and Chinese Medicine (TCM). Raspberry leaf is considered safe and is even used to aid in delivery for pregnant women. It also supports a more rhythmic and regular menstrual cycle.

With any herbs and supplements, always consult with a licensed health professional before use.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Fruit (aka, drupes)

Flavors: Mild, Bitter, Cool

Herbal Actions

Primary Organs: Kidney, Liver, Spleen, Reproductive Organs

TCM Actions:

  • Tonifies the Kidneys
  • Binds Jing (Essence)
  • Builds Kidney & Liver Qi

Western Actions:

  • Astringent
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Emmenagogue
Close up of raspberry leaves

Horticultural Information

American red raspberry is a native North American species.

This is a full sun loving plant who needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. If it will receive partial shade, it should be for only 2-4 hours. During fruiting season (spring/fall) it needs plenty of water, as well as well-drained soil because it hates “wet feet.”

If you plant a first year plant, don’t expect it to bear fruit. It is a patient plant and you’ll need to be as well, waiting until year two to see the fruits of its labors.

Red Raspberry bushes need between 3 to 6 feet of height and 6 to 12 feet of breadth to grow.

USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-7

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Materia Magicka

All plants are sacred. Red Raspberry is particularly sacred to the power of women.

  • The dried leaves can invoke fertility and protect your unborn child.
  • The berries can be used to create a simple love potion (“Careful what you wish for, dear!”)
  • You can plant a hedge row to protect your dwelling, work or home.

Below is some of the symbolism associated with Red Raspberry.

Planets: Constellations:
  ☾ The Moon   ♋ Cancer
  ♀ Venus   ♓ Pisces
Element: Chakra:
  🜄 Water   Sacral Chakra
Deities:
  Norse: Freyja   Greek: Hera, Ilithyia
Outline of woman with Sacral Chakra highlighted and raspberry leaves in the background