Where are raspberries native?
It's raspberry season! I enjoy their taste more than blueberries and blackberries, but not as much as huckleberries. I do enjoy picking all the berries though. I'm a gatherer for sure!
The red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is native to Asia Minor and North America. Fruits were gathered from the wild by the people of Troy in the foothills of Mt. Ida around the time of Christ. Records of raspberry domestication were found in 4th century writings of Palladius, a Roman agriculturist, and seeds have been discovered at Roman forts in Britain. Therefore, the Romans are thought to have spread cultivation throughout Europe.
In Medieval Europe, wild berries were considered both medicinal and utilitarian. Their juices were used in paintings and illuminated manuscripts. During this time period, only the rich ate the fruit. King Edward I (1272 - 1307) is recognized as the first person to call for the cultivation of berries; and by the 17th century, British gardens were thick with berries and berry bushes. By the 18th century, berry cultivation practices had spread throughout Europe. When settlers from Europe came to America, they discovered Native Americans were already utilizing and eating berries. Due to the nomadic nature of this culture, berries were dried for preservation and ease of transportation. Settlers also brought cultivated raspberries that were native to Europe with them to the new colonies. In 1761, George Washington moved to his estate in Mount Vernon where he began to cultivate berries in his extensive gardens. The first commercial nursery plants were sold by William Price in 1771.
By 1867 over 40 different varieties were known. After the Civil War, major production areas emerged in the regions of New York, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana. By 1880, approximately 2,000 acres were in cultivation. Today, the leading producing regions for red raspberries are Washington, Oregon and California. With over 70 million pounds per year grown on 9,600 acres, Washington accounts for over 70% of the U.S. production of frozen red raspberries.