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Fantastic as raspberry

Raspberry is a type of shrub, subshrub, or, less commonly, herbaceous plant from the rose family. It occurs in the wild in almost the entire temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, excluding Portugal and Iceland. There are approximately 200 species within this genus. The Rubus genus also includes the Polish generic name for blackberry.

In Poland, there are three species of raspberries. The most popular is the common raspberry (Rubus idaeus), a prickly shrub that grows wild in forests, thickets, and clearings. Its aromatic, red fruits are well-known to everyone. This species prefers sunny and fertile locations and is sometimes found as a pioneer plant.

Two herbaceous perennial species can also be found in Poland: the widespread stone bramble (R. saxatilis) found throughout the country and the cloudberry (which produces separate male and female plants), growing in peat bogs. In Poland, it reaches the southern limit of its geographical range. Some sources also list the Arctic raspberry (R. arcticus) as native, with its closest habitats currently found beyond the northwestern borders of our country.

The most interesting of the mentioned species is the cloudberry, which can be found quite abundantly in Scandinavia, northern areas of Great Britain, and Russia. North of the Arctic Circle, its yellow, slightly tangy fruits, served hot, are considered a delicacy. Various preserves are made from it, or it is consumed raw. Thanks to its significant benzoic acid content—a natural preservative—cloudberries can be stored fresh for quite a long time. In the past, Arctic hunters used them as a remedy for scurvy. This plant requires a humid, preferably peat substrate and ample light for its development. In Poland, it is considered a glacial relic, a species remaining from the times when tundra existed in our region during the ice age. It can be observed in Warmia and Masuria, Pomerania, and the Karkonosze Mountains. It inhabits high peat bogs and swampy forests, where the microclimate is somewhat harsher than in the surrounding areas. This way, the cloudberry, which prefers a colder climate, found an opportunity to grow in our geographical latitudes. However, since high peat bogs in Poland are often drained, this plant is at risk of extinction. Therefore, it has been listed in the "Polish Red Book of Plants" and is legally protected.

Before the characteristic, incredibly aromatic raspberry fruit develops, the plant must bloom. The white or pink, usually five-petaled, wide-open flowers are gathered in a loose, racemose inflorescence. They attract pollinating bees, to which the flowers provide nectar and pollen from May to mid-July. From one hectare of dense raspberry bushes, called a raspberry patch, you can obtain from 50 to 120 kg of light honey with high food values. What we eat with such appetite is the so-called collective stone fruit. It may sound somewhat complicated, but upon closer inspection, it turns out to be rather obvious. This fruit consists of numerous proper fruits covered with a thin skin, i.e., an external fruit. Underneath it lies what we value most—soft and tasty flesh called the central fruit. In the very center of each of these juicy spheres is a hard seed, i.e., the inner fruit containing the seed. This is why these fruits are called aggregate fruits because many such aggregates, connected by tiny hairs, grow on the highly convex floral receptacle.

Due to their excellent taste and aroma, these fruits are eagerly eaten not only by humans but also by various animals, attracted by both the bright color and the strong scent of raspberries. The external and central fruits are digested in the digestive tract, but in reality, the most important part of the fruit, i.e., the seed, usually passes through it untouched and, thanks to the migration of the animal, can be transferred a considerable distance from the mother plant. This method of seed dispersal (diaspores) of plants is called endozoochory.

The fruits are highly versatile in the kitchen: they are used to make excellent beverages, desserts, and baked goods, and are preserved, making jams, juices, and compotes for the winter. And raspberry jams have a unique aroma.

During the fall-winter season, always have raspberry juice on hand. It will come in handy if someone in your family catches a cold. Even a few-year-old toddler can be given a warm tea with a sweet juice addition, which will have a warming effect. In case of fever, you can also give your child such a warm drink. It will have diaphoretic effects.

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