Female flower Male flowers

Images: ©Jouko Lehmuskallio

Cloudberry

Rubus chamaemorus

  • Name also: Bakeapple (Atlantic Canada)
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock with runners, woody.
  • Height: 10–25 cm (4–8 in.). Stem 2-leaved.
  • Flower: Plant dioecious (pistillate and staminate flowers on different plants). Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in.) broad; petals 5, with notched tips. Sepals 5. Staminate flower: stamens many, gynoecium vestigial. Pistillate flower: gynoecium separate, pistils several, stamens vestigial. Flowers solitary.
  • Leaves: Alternate, quite long-stalked, stipulate. Blade quite round–kidney-shaped, shallowly 5–7-lobed, with toothed margins, crinkled and often also wrinkled, especially underside hairy, with yellow glands.
  • Fruit: Initially red, when ripe yellow, juicy, fragrant aggregate of drupes.
  • Habitat: Swamps, bogs, mossy open bogs, slightly elevated dryer ridges on string bogs, peaty moors and rocky outcrops.
  • Flowering time: June.

Cloudberry is a much sough-after bogland treasure: its berry is an aromatic delicacy that is very high in vitamin C. It is a financially important natural resource, especially in the north, as locals can earn a tidy sum for gathering them. Domestic and foreign demand is so high that restrictions on picking have had to be introduced in some places. Cloudberry is an ingredient in many desserts, confections and liqueurs.

Cloudberry’s berry production varies a lot over the years. Frost during the flowering time can ruin the whole crop and cool weather immobilises pollinators. Heavy rains and storms can rip the delicate petals in a way that pollinators cannot find the flowers. Bad weather during the growing season shows up the next summer too in the shape of a poor inflorescence. Additionally, a bumper crop is usually followed the next year by a poor inflorescence and a subsequently average crop at best as the plant recovers from its exertions.

Cloudberry’s rootstock helps it spread into a broad stand, and in a small bog all the plants can be the same individual. Cloudberry’s pistillate and staminate flowers are on different plants, so berries never form on stands that are all the same sex. In open bogs the berry season is short and bountiful, while in swamps the berries ripen more slowly and need a long autumn. Larger berries are a sign that bumblebees have taken care of the pollination – small beetles or mosquitoes produce only one or two-parted small berries which are hardly worth picking. Apart from people, many kinds of animals, from thrushes and red grouse to bears, enjoy eating the berries and thus spreading the stone-hard seeds that pass through the digestive tract unscathed. Thus the seeds can find new habitats, and this method also helps the seeds sprout: seeds that are left uneaten sprout slowly.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family
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