Ribes cynosbati (Prickly Gooseberry)
|Also known as:||Dogberry|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; average to moist rich or rocky soil; hardwood or mixed forest, thickets, outcrops, floodplains, swamps|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||2 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Spreading to dangling clusters of 1 to 4 (typically 2) stalked flowers arising from leaf axils on lateral branches. Flowers are about 1/3 inch long, generally bell-shaped, pale yellow to greenish-white with 5 short, erect petals. Extending from inside the tube are 5 pale yellow stamens that are a little longer than the petals. The calyx cupping the flower is green, the 5 sepal lobes are shorter than the tube but longer than the petals and narrowly oblong with rounded tips, sometimes spreading but more often strongly bent back (reflexed). Between the calyx and flower stalk is a green ovary covered in long, straight, stiff hairs. At the base of the flower stalk are small, lance-oval bracts that are hairy and glandular around the edges. Flower stalks are up to 5/8 inch long, hairless to finely hairy, often glandular-hairy, the cluster stalk more densely hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are ¾ to 2 inches long and about as wide, mostly heart-shaped at the base, with 3 to 5 primary lobes that are notched or shallowly lobed, the lobes and notches mostly rounded at the tip. Surfaces are hairy, sometimes glandular hairy. Veins are prominent and radiate from the base. Leaf stalks are up to 1¼ inch long and covered in a mix of long, spreading hairs and shorter glandular hairs.
New twigs are green, moderately to densely covered in short hairs and prickles with 1 to 3 long spines at branch and leaf nodes. By the second year the bark on upper stems has turned gray-brown and the prickles and spines often fallen away, the thin bark sometimes splitting to reveal reddish stems with scattered white lenticels (pores). Older bark lower on the lower stems is brownish gray, usually with persistent prickles and spines.
The Ribes species consist of both gooseberries and currants. Gooseberries are distinguished by at least some stems having spines or thorny prickles, which currants lack, and clusters of 1 to 4 flowers where currants have larger racemes of 6 or more flowers. When flowering or fruiting, Prickly Gooseberry is easily distinguished by the hairy ovary that becomes prickly fruit. Missouri Gooseberry (Ribes missouriense) is most similar in habitat and prickliness, but has more slender flowers with very long stamens, and lacks glandular hairs on leaf surfaces and stalks.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Prickly Gooseberry plant
- Prickly Gooseberry plant
- Prickly Gooseberry habitat in early spring
- upper branch bark, gray with spines or smooth and reddish
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?