By Juhanson, via Wikimedia Commons
By Juhanson, via Wikimedia Commons

Red Raspberry, Rubus idaeus

Family: Rosaceae, the Rose Family

Description: Non-native biennial shrub up to 2m tall. Compound leaves with 3 leaflets that are almost white and very hairy on the underside. Stems have varying prickles. Red fruit separates from receptacle.

Abundance: Common

Habitat: Disturbed sites, thickets, dry fields, woodland openings

Plant Parts Used: Leaves, fruits, roots

Food: Edible fruits

Medicine: Upset stomachs, pregnancy, diarrhea, uterine tonic

Raspberry fruits (which are not actually berries, but a cluster of drupelets) have many culinary uses, but the medicinal qualities are often ignored. Ray told me that a tea of the fresh or dry leaves can be used for upset stomachs or as a comparable substitute for nettle tea. Terry-Anya says this tea is especially helpful for pregnant women, though it makes a satisfying casual herbal tea for anyone. Deb commended the use of raspberry leaf tea, collected from the first year canes, as the strongest uterine tonic. It helps the cervix open and the uterus contract during childbirth, serves as a general tonic for pregnancy, and is helpful for women who have birthed many babies in order to prevent a prolapsed uterus. This tea helps enrich milk production, tone the muscles of the uterus after birth, and eases afterbirth pains. Raspberry leaf tea is also helpful when taken a week before menstruation to ease painful periods. Sue also said the calcium-rich leaves not only make a “good prenatal tea,” but also make a tea that encourages relaxation and relieves leg cramps and diarrhea.

The Alongquin treated diarrhea with the root, while the Okanagan-Colville took a decoction of the branches for both diarrhea and constipation. The Cherokee made a strong tea of the leaves for childbirth pains and menstruation. They also used the astringent leaves as a tea for bowel complaints. The Cree similarly used raspberry for women’s cycles. They made a decoction of the stems and roots to help women recover from childbirth, to slow menstrual bleeding, and to help females “who are run down from period sickness.”

Note: This post is part of my Plants and People series. See my Plants and People page for more information about the project and the people referenced in this post.

References:

  • Hayes, Terry-Anya. Personal interview. 27 Oct. 2010.
  • Michener, Martin C. Botany Everywhere: Woods, Field, Home, and Garden Plants of NE USA, Third Edition. Hollis, NH: MIST Software Associates, Inc., 2009. PDF.
  • Mittelhauser, Glen H., Linda L. Gregory, Sally C. Rooney, and Jill E. Weber. The Plants of Acadia National Park. Orono, Me.: University of Maine, 2010. Print.
  • Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Medicinal Plants: an Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Portland, Or.: Timber, 2009. Print.
  • Reitze, Raymond and Nancy. Personal interview. 8, 15 Oct. 2010.
  • Soule, Deb. Personal interview. 4 Feb. 2011.
  • Szwed, Sue. Personal interview. 12 Nov. 2010.
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