Wild Fruit, Pacific Northwest
The Black Cap Raspberries grow on all of the BC coast including all of Vancouver Island. Its stems are covered by a bluish, waxy bloom, and are armed with flattened, hooked prickles. Leaves usually have 3 sharp toothed leaflets and are white on the undersides. Flowers come in clusters of up to 7 and the petals are white to pinkish in color. Fruits look like a regular raspberry but turn a dark purplish black when ripe.
The berries were eaten either fresh or dried for later consumption by the firsts peoples. They were also used to make a purple dye. The dye is quite fetching but i prefer to use them to make pies, jams and syrups. When picking these berries, one should wear a tight glove, like surgical gloves to avoid staining your fingers, the blue stain is very hard to remove. You should also be careful as the bush is well protected by thorns.
Black Raspberries are a favorite food of many forest dwellers, birds like grouse, quail, robins, rufous sided towhees, blue jays, waxwings and sparrows along with many others gobble them up when they are ripe. Other creatures like raccoons, squirrels, rodents and bears all love them as well. Marmots will live off these berries when they are ripe.
The thick and prickle covered bushes make great nesting habitat for birds and small animals can find shelter here where they can rest in relative security.
A tea, high in vitamin C can be made from the leaves. Young shoots can be peeled, eaten raw, or cooked like asparagus.
Black raspberries have a high concentration of powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, which are oxygen molecules that damage cells and contribute to chronic conditions like cancer and heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society, the antioxidant properties of ellagic acid that is contained in black cap raspberries have been associated with death of cancer cells in lab tests.