Know your Gooseberry

Know your Gooseberry - Introduction

  • The gooseberryRibes uva-crispa, syn. R. grossularia, is a species of Ribes, native to Europe, north-western Africa and south-western Asia. 
  • It is one of several similar species in the subgenus Grossularia .
  • Although usually placed as a subgenus within Ribes, a few taxonomists treat Grossularia as a separate genus, although hybrids between gooseberry and blackcurrant (e.g., the Jostaberry) are possible. 
  • The subgenus Grossularia differs somewhat from currants, chiefly in their spiny stems, and in that their flowers grow one to three together on short stems, not in racemes.

Know your Gooseberry - Uses

  • Gooseberry bushes produce an edible fruit and are grown on both a commercial and domestic basis.
  • Gooseberries are best known for their use in desserts such as Gooseberry Fool and Gooseberry Crumble.
  • In some countries, like Portugal, gooseberries are very appreciated as a beverage, being mostly used mixed with soda, water or even milk.

Know your Gooseberry - Botany

  • The gooseberry is a straggling bush growing to 1-3 metres (3-10 feet) tall, the branches being thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in diverging tufts of two or three from the bases of the short spurs or lateral leaf shoots. 
  • The bell-shaped flowers are produced, singly or in pairs, from the groups of rounded, deeply-crenated 3 or 5 lobed leaves. 
  • The fruit of wild gooseberries is smaller than in the cultivated varieties, but is often of good flavour; it is generally hairy, but in one variety smooth, constituting the R. uva-crispa of writers; berries' colour is usually green, but there are red variants and occasionally deep purple berries occur.

Know your Gooseberry - Origins

  • The gooseberry is indigenous in Europe and western Asia, growing naturally in alpine thickets and rocky woods in the lower country, from France eastward, well into the Himalayas and peninsular India.
  • In Britain, gooseberry bushes are often found in copses and hedgerows and about old ruins, but the gooseberry has been cultivated for so long that it is difficult to distinguish wild bushes from feral ones, or where the gooseberry fits into the native flora of the island. 

Know your Gooseberry - Distribution

  • Today gooseberries are grown and eaten in cooler climates across the globe, from northern America and northern Europe to the Himalayas.