The wine-rasp yields

It’s been over 5 years now since I planted the furry-spined wine raspberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) in Mortal Tree. After hovering so long over the furry little husks that clutch the fruits like vicous claws, I finally got to taste one.

See this post for the difficulty I was facing with this rasp. The second year canes would just wilt and die shortly after bloom. Still no idea of the cause. While there is a bit of the same wilt occurring this year too, most of the canes are uneffected, and finally bearing a most unusually delicious fruit.

They should be called red-black-raspberries if describing the flavor. They are a bright, shiny red -about the shape and size of wild black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) which carpet the sunny wild spots around here. And they taste like the black rasps too -although a lighter version of black-rasp flavor I must admit. There is none of the deep red-rasp flavor in these little guys.

Red-rasp fruit on to right, black-rasp in back, wine-rasp in front.

When I say black rasp flavor, I’m refering to a light, fruity flavor. The deeper notes of black raspberry are what I consider the classic jam flavor. Red rasps (Rubus ideaus) -the cultivated red rasp you find in stores -are far more intense, with deep, sweet richness. Wine rasp flavor is pretty much wild black-rasp flavor without the purple-black color -just a little lighter.

Wild black raspberry wanders from sunny spot to sunny spot in Mortal Tree already. My thoughts on keeping the wine rasp? Definitely keeping it. I like its looks, and the cool little husks.

A few sources toute these husks as a bird deterrent. Not at all in my experience. The birds get at them far more readily than red or black raspberries.

I must also admit wine-rasps have a nice arching habit of their canes like black-rasps, so fare well up above a mess of companion plants better then red-rasps.

Red-rasps in my food forest need a low-growing ground cover such as oregano, or mint to be happy.

I’m just glad to finally get a fruit. We will see if this is a fluke, or if the ever improving soil, climate, and diversity in Mortal Tree are kicking in. I suspect the latter is the case.


  1. It took a few years before my wineberries thrived. But when they come they are indeed lovely! Very beautiful to look at. It was also years before the canes grew long enough to bend back down and layer, but I did that last summer and will be able to spread some of the resultant plants around the garden later on this year.


  2. The second year canes were probably killed by a late frost. Wineberry is best in zones 6-8. I live in near Chicago which is technically 6a but sometimes we have zone 5 winter and/or late frosts. It has taken me 3 years to get fruit because of this. I reccomend to mulch heavily in the first few years to increase the chance of the second year canes surviving. I hope my experience helps in some way.


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