With its ostentatious white flowers clamoring for your attention, Boulder Raspberry (Oreobatus deliciosus ) impresses like a hybridized cultivar, rather than a native shrub. Growing three to five feet tall and six feet wide, arching, sprawling stems carry bright green, lobed leaves that turn yellow in fall before dropping for the winter. Spring’s blooms develop into small reddish purple fruit resembling cultivated raspberries. While edible, the berries are generally considered unpalatable. However, they will attract birds and other wildlife. Unlike other raspberries, the stems are thornless.
Dry shade is enough to send most plants running, but Boulder Raspberry thrives there. Long-lived and very hardy, you can find these shrubs on Rocky Mountain slopes and ravines between 4,500 and 9,000 feet. They prefer gravelly or silty soil with good drainage.
A bit coarse for a formal garden, Boulder Raspberry combines well with other natives in a natural setting. It works best as an understory plant or in a northern exposure. Pink shrub roses (such as ‘Nearly Wild’) or purple-leafed ‘Diablo’ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) would make outstanding companions. For best results, situate plants in light to medium shade, and add two to three inches of compost to the soil. Water deeply but infrequently.
Article and photos by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener