Raspberries are a widespread group of plants in the rose family that grow as perennials in all the lower 48 states and Alaska except the states of the south along the gulf coast between Texas to Florida. In colder areas, the canes often die back to the root completely to overwinter. Nevertheless, they produce canes every year that flower and bear fruit on secondary branches when the canes are two years old. There is some debate as to whether the species found in North America differs from it's European and Asian counterparts. Many varieties in cultivation are hybrids of the European (Rubus idaeus) and the North America variety (Rubus strigosus). Vermont is noted for it's diversity of raspberry species in particular. It is possible that the raspberries in Bear Swamp are a variety of species and could include Black Raspberries (Rubus occidentals), purple raspberries (Rubus odorous), European (Rubus ideas), North American Raspberries (Rubus strigosus) or a rare wild hybrid of Black and Red Raspberries known unofficially and with adulation as (Rubus Neglectus). They play an important ecological role in the wild as browse for an number of fauna including multiple species of bears, deer, birds and smaller mammals such as raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, skunks, chipmunks and host insects and larve in the short lived Raspberry season of the early summer.
Raspberries play an important role as a flower crop for domestic and wild bees. Humans have also found the raspberry to be a highly lucrative and delicious food crop, sold fresh, dried, frozen and prepared in jams, they are also made into liqueurs and dyes. Russia is the world's top producer, harvesting 95,000 tons in the 2003 - 2004 season, while Serbia grew 79,000 tons and the United States sold 48,000 tons (FAO). For centuries, humans have also used the leaves of Raspberries to make teas that are widely used by women during pregnancy (KA Petrie 2000). There is evidence to support that the fruits have numerous beneficial health properties, including a high count of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and posses nearly twice the amount of antioxidants as apples (Wu X 2004). However, this source of information has been produced by a highly monetized and politicized body of private enterprises and government organizations, and may be of questionable quality or misleading. They have been hybridized into countless varieties to suit a wide range of climatic conditions. Raspberries have been considered invasive as they can be spread in numerous ways, including propagation by bird droppings, human cultivation in the form of transplanting dormant canes, plug plants produced from tissue culture, and from their own form of reproduction, suckers, technically referred to as basal shoots that can spread in gardens if they are not maintained.
Rejuvenating the Bear Swamp Trails. Troy Janusz. Sterling College ASRP. 2008
The Boreal Ecosystem. James A. Larsen. Academic Press. 1980
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Food Fact. 2003
Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. KA Petrie, MR Peck. Elsevier. 2000
Wetland, Woodland, Wildland: A guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont. Thompson EH, Sorenson ER. The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2005
Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center and Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2004