Northern Ontario Plant Database
Ribes cynosbati L.
En: eastern prickly gooseberry, pasture gooseberry, dogberry, dogbramble
Grossulariaceae (Currant Family)
The Genus Ribes: Gooseberries and currents both belong to the family Grossulariaceae (formerly part of the Saxifragaceae – the Saxifrage Family), but currents have saucer-shaped flowers borne in long racemes, while gooseberries have tubular flowers borne singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils. Gooseberries belong to subgenus Grossularia (Mill.) Richard.
General: A low, straggling, deciduous shrub, 6–9 dm tall. The bark is grayish-brown; twigs finely hairy, but becoming smooth with age (glabrate); a few scattered prickles and glandular hairs are also present; the nodes bear 1–3 spines, to 1 cm long.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, palmately-lobed, petiolate. Leaf blades 3–7.5 cm long, with 3–5 deep lobes; upper surface dark green, with scattered hairs; lower surface paler, finely hairy and bearing glandular hairs along the veins; leaf bases flat (truncate) to heart-shaped (cordate); lobes have blunt (obtuse) to rounded tips and coarsely-toothed (serrate) margins; petiole 2.5–4 cm long, finely hairy and glandular.
Flowers: Bisexual, greenish-yellow, pendant, borne in axillary clusters of 2–3 flowers on glandular stalks (pedicels). Calyx bell-shaped (campanulate), 6–9 mm long, the lobes of the calyx shorter than the tube; petals 5, small, attached between the calyx lobes; stamens 5, slightly longer than the petals; the single pistil with a prickly, inferior ovary. Flowers bloom in May or June.
Fruit: An edible, deep red, prickly berry; globose, 8–12 mm in diameter. Fruits mature in late summer.
Habitat and Range: Dry to moist hardwood forests, rocky soils. The prickly gooseberry is native to eastern North America. It occurs commonly in southern and eastern Ontario, as well as Manitoulin Island, but is not known north of 47° N (Soper & Heimburger 1982).
Internet Images: The Ribes cynosbati website.
The Ribes cynosbati website.
Images of flowers and immature fruits of the prickly gooseberry, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison collection of botany images.
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