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Botanical name: Rubus idaeus L.
Botanical Family: Rosaceae
Common name: raspberry
Synonyms: red raspberry, European raspberry, hoja de frambueso (Spanish)
The Plant: Red raspberry, black raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cloudberry, dewberry, thimbleberry and loganberry are just a few of the 250-plus members of the genus Rubus.
Raspberry is a native of North America, Asia and Europe and is cultivated for its fruits throughout most of the temperate regions around the world. Although the berries have been harvested since prehistory (fruit fragments have been found in archeological digs at ancient village sites), cultivation did not begin until the Middle Ages. Raspberry has since gone through plant selection and hybridization to create numerous named varieties.
Red raspberry canes have varying degrees of thorns and grow up to six feet tall. A patch of raspberry can become an impenetrable bramble if not kept in check by pruning. The leaves are toothed and medium green on the upper side; underneath, they are covered in fine hairs that give them a silvery look. (see photo)
Constituents of Note: Tannins are responsible for the astringency of raspberry leaves. Also present are several flavonoids and vitamin C.
Quality: Raspberry leaves are green with a silver-gray underside. The tiny hairs, responsible for the lighter-colored appearance of the undersides of the leaves, cause the cut leaves to cling together and form clumps. Leaf petioles (stems) are present and may have small thorns. Plants stems should not be present at greater than 5%.
The aroma of dried raspberry leave is faint and somewhat tea-like; the flavor is astringent and green, with a bitter finish.
Regulatory Status: Dietary Supplement
Did you know? The genus name for raspberry, rubus, is derived from Latin and means “thorny shrub,” a name to which anyone who has harvested the berries will agree. Wild members of this genus are often called brambles.
Directions: To make a tea, pour one cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of raspberry leaf, let steep for 5 minutes, then strain.
Suggested Uses: Raspberry leaf is astringent and considered toning and strengthening to the reproductive tract. It's often recommended by midwives as a toning tea.
Raspberry is a nice addition to many herb teas. Because of its astringent flavor and hearty mouth feel, it adds depth of flavor to tea blends and is often used as a base to which less robust-flavored herbs are added. It also makes a tasty tea on its own.
Red raspberry leafs’ astringent properties make it a refreshing gargle or mouthwash and a useful ingredient in skin toners and other skin preparations.
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook* classifies raspberry as:
Class 1: herbs which can be safely consumed when used appropriately.
Per the German Commission E Monograph** for red raspberry, there are no known risks for this herb.
*Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)
**Mark Blumenthal, ed., The Complete German Commission E Monographs, (Austin TX: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998
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