|The flower calyx is hairy with five pointed lobes 7–15 mm long.|
It is a shrub growing to 1–4 m tall, with perennial, not biennial woody stems (unlike other species) that are covered with fine prickles. The leaves are trifoliate, 7–22 cm long, the terminal leaflet larger than the two side leaflets. The leaf margins are toothed. The flowers are 2–3 cm diameter, with five purple petals; they are produced from early spring to early summer. The fruit matures in late summer to early autumn, and resembles a large yellow to orange-red raspberry 1.5–2 cm long with many drupelets.
In the Pacific Northwest of North America the berries can ripen from mid-June to late July.
Salmonberries are found in moist forests and stream margins, especially in the coastal forests. They often form large thickets, and thrive in the open spaces under stands of red alder (Alnus rubra).
In Kodiak, Alaska, orange salmonberries are often referred to as "Russian berries". Because the berries are found in abundance there and look a lot like raspberries, one of the islands in the Kodiak archipelago is named Raspberry Island. Plain salmonberries are found as far north as Kivalina, Alaska.
Cultivation and uses
Salmonberries are edible and share the fruit structure of the raspberry, with the fruit pulling away from its receptacle. Books often call the fruit "insipid" but depending on ripeness and site, they are good eaten raw and when processed into jam, candy, jelly and wine. They were an important food for indigenous peoples. Traditionally, the berries were eaten with salmon or mixed with oolichan grease or salmon roe. They were not dried because of their high moisture content.
It is widely grown as an ornamental plant for its flowers. A double-flowered form was discovered at the mouth of the Duckabush River, Jefferson County, Washington, around May 1, 1961, by Dr. R. C. Creelman of Bremerton, Washington. This has been given the cultivar name 'Olympic Double' or 'Olympic'.  Another double salmonberry was found by Phyllis Munday of Vancouver, British Columbia, but neither the date nor the site has been determined. This double may be confused in gardens with 'Olympic Double'.
Mature fruit in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
- "Plants of British Columbia: Rubus spectabilis". Linnet.geog.ubc.ca. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- "Jepson Flora: Rubus spectabilis". Ucjeps.berkeley.edu. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- Pojar, J., & MacKinnon, A., eds. (1994). Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast. Vancouver, BC: Lone Pine.
- Mosquin, Daniel (2007-04-23). "Rubus spectabilis 'Olympic Double' - Botany Photo of the Day". Ubcbotanicalgarden.org. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Mulligan, Brian O. (1977). Woody Plants in the University of Washington Arboretum, Washington Park. University of Washington, College of Forest Resources, Seattle.
- Mulligan, Brian O. (1963). Accession records of the University of Washington Arboretum
- Flora of NW Europe: Rubus spectabilis
- Højgaard, A. et al., eds. (1989). A century of tree-planting in the Faroe Islands. Føroya Fróðskaparfelag, Tórshavn.