Wild Raspberries

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

R. idaeus is the modern botanical name of the chief species of both the wild and cultivated raspberry. The old English name for raspberry was ‘raspis’. Its origin is obscure, but thought to be connected with the rough, slightly hairy, and thus ‘rasping’ surface of a raspberry, compared with the shiny, smooth blackberry. Another old name was ‘hindberry’, given because the fruit was eaten by deer. The common German and Danish names are forms of the same word.

The common European wild raspberry has a distribution which extends well to the north of the Arctic Circle, and grows also in W. and N. Asia. (Wild plants of this species in America are not native, but escapees from cultivation.) There are red, yellow, and white forms. The flavour of some wild varieties is outstanding, so ‘canes’ (cuttings with a piece of root) are often taken from wild plants and transferred to gardens.