What is a salmonberry? How is it scientifically related to other plants?
Contrary to public perception, salmonberry does not refer to salmon mixed with berries, although the name could’ve come from observation that natives enjoyed eating the berries with salmon roe. In essence, the salmonberry is an edible berry grown on large bushes from southern Alaska to the northern California coast. Most note, however, that they thrive in the Pacific Northwest because of the rain and mild temperatures. Appearance-wise, the salmonberry looks like a raspberry, but its taste is quite tart. Its colors range from bright orange to a deep red. These berries are also known to possess large seeds and a high water content.
Their scientific name is Rubus spectabilis. Rubus refers to a large genus of 450-750 species. The name itself is derived from the Latin word, ruber, which means red. Spectabilis refers to the term ‘spectacular’, because of the conspicuous flowers and fruits. Salmonberries are classified as eudicots, which are plants that produce seeds in their flowers, later to be enclosed in fruits. Most eudicots share the following characteristics: leaves that have a netted venation, flower parts in 2’s, 4’s, and 5’s (or multiples of 4 and 5), seeds that have 2 seed leaves (cotyledons) and stem vascular bundles arranged around the pith in a ring. Common eudicots include the dandelion, apple, buttercup, and macadamia.
Delving further into the phylogeny of salmonberries, one will notice that they are also classified as Rosids. About 70,000 species belong to this clade, some of which include fruits and flowers of the balsam apple and the rowan (mountain-ash). Some of the salmonberry’s closest relatives include thimbleberries, blackberries, and raspberries, because they are all part of the rose family.