The Cloudberry (Rubus) is a plant in the Rosaceae family. The plant grows up to 10-25 cm high. The leaves alternate between having 5 and 7 soft, hand-like lobes on straight, branchless stalks. The flowers are dioecious with 4-6 white petals. There is one flower on the tip of the stem. Although the fruits of the plant are called berries, they are actually drupes. It may consist of 5-25 drupelets, each of which contains a pip. The round fruit is initially hard and red, but turns yellow and softens as it ripens. Cloudberries blossom in May and June. The plant is pollinated by insects. Fruit production by a female plant requires pollination by a male plant. The fruits ripen in July and August. The seeds are distributed by birds. It takes seven years for the plant to grow from a seed to an adult plant. Storks and bears also love cloudberries and the seeds have a better chance of germination after passing through their digestive system. Cloudberries are common in the Northern Hemisphere up to the southern borders of marshlands. They are is particularly common in the Nordic countries and Baltic States, but also grow in the moorlands of Britain, most of Russia and across most of Canada and Alaska, as well as elsewhere in America. The cloudberry can withstand cold temperatures (as low as -40°C) but it is sensitive to salty and dry conditions. It prefers wet and sunny habitats. In Estonia cloudberries can sometimes be found in massive quantities. They grow in bogs, marshes and swamp forests. Cloudberry fruits are aromatic and tasty.
What do cloudberries contain?
Cloudberries contain sugars, citric acid and vitamin C. The fruits also contain benzoic acid, which is a natural preservative – meaning the berries keep well. Fresh berries have a distinctive tart taste. When overripe, they have a creamy texture somewhat like yoghurt and a sweetened flavour. Semi-ripe berries continue ripening after being picked.
What are the benefits of cloudberries?
The fruit and the plant as a whole have been used in popular medicine to treat coughs, tuberculosis, rheumatism, gout and bladder and heart diseases. Sailors and Nordic people have used cloudberries to prevent scurvy.