Northern Ontario Plant Database
Rubus chamaemorus L.
En: cloudberry, bakeapple (NL)
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
General: A low perennial forb, spreading by creeping rhizomes; erect stems, 1–3 dm tall. Cloudberries, called bakeapples in Newfoundland and Labrador, grow close to the ground and produce only a single berry on each stem. Plants are unisexual, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants.
Leaves: 1–3, alternate, simple, palmately-veined, stalked (petiolate), deciduous. Leaves kidney-shaped (reniform) to round (orbicular), 4–11 cm wide, with 5-7 broadly ovate to rounded lobes; leaf base cordate, apices of lobes blunt to rounded, margins toothed (serrate).
Flowers: Unisexual, solitary, terminal, 2–3 cm wide, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants (plants dioecious). Calyx deeply divided into 5–8 oblong-ovate lobes, with short, abruptly pointed (mucronate) tips, calyx persistent in fruit; petals 5–8, white, obovate; male flowers with numerous stamens; female flowers with several, distinct pistils. Flowers bloom in mid summer.
Fruit: The raspberry-like fruit (an aggregate of drupelets), 1–2 cm in diameter, is firm and red when young, but matures to a soft, translucent amber-yellow colour. The succulent but tart, edible berries, highly sought-after in the north as a fruit crop, are used in making jams, pies, wines, and liquor. The fruits have larger and fewer segments (drupelets) and larger pits (stony endocarp, each 4–5 mm in diameter), than a typical raspberry or blackberry fruit; matures in late summer
Habitat and Range: Bogs, wet peaty meadows, and tundra. Rubus chamaemorus is native to northern boreal and arctic regions of North America and Eurasia (circumboreal). In Ontario, it occurs as far south as southeast Lake Superior, but is absent from southern and eastern Ontario.
Similar Species: Rubus arcticus subsp. acaulis, the arctic bramble, occurs in Ontario in the same general area as the cloudberry, but can be easily distinguished by its compound (trifoliate) leaf and smaller, deep red to purple berries.
Internet Images: Bakeapples, a delicacy in Newfoundland and Labrador, are just one of the less commercial berries used by companies such as Dark Tickle and Labrador Preserves in the local production of jams, syrups, spreads, and teas. The Dark Tickle website explains that the name bakeapple does not come from any similarity of the fruit to apples, but from an anglicized version of the French phrase, 'baie qu'appelle?' which means "what is this berry called?"
A beautiful image of an immature cloudberry fruit and a male flower from the Norwegian website, Kronbladet.no.
These images of Rubus chamaemorus are from the Saskatchewan Native Plants and Wildflowers website.
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