Ribes cynosbati L.

Prickly Gooseberry


CC = 5
CW = 3
MOC = 24

© SRTurner

Family - Grossulariaceae

Habit - Shrub.

Stem - Ascending or arching, to 1.5 m. Armed with large spines at nodes. Lower stems often densely bristly-spiny.

Ribes_cynosbati_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Petioles with both glandular and eglandular hairs. Blades broadly ovate, lobed, with doubly toothed margins, finely hairy.

Ribes_cynosbati_leaves.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Ribes_cynosbati_petiole.jpg Stem and leaf petiole.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Small umbellate clusters of 1-4 flowers.

Ribes_cynosbati_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flower - On stalks 5-12 mm long. Hypanthium cylindrical. Petals 1-2 mm long, white. Stamens only slightly exserted from hypanthium. Ovary spinescent.

Ribes_cynosbati_flower.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Globose, 6-12 mm, densely spiny, green to pale red, edible and tasty.

Ribes_cynosbati_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Shaded bluffs, bottomland forests.

Origin - Native to North America.

Lookalikes - R. missouriense.

Other info. - This is one of the less common Missouri species of Ribes, occurring in scattered counties in the eastern half of the state. It is far more common northward, ranging across the northeastern U.S. and Canada. When in flower or fruit, it is easily distinguished from the much more common R. missouriense by its spinescent ovaries and fruits. Also, the flowers do not have the long-exserted stamens which give flowers of R. missouriense their unusual appearance. Vegetatively, the distinction can be made on the basis of the leaf petioles, which have glandular hairs in R. cynosbati.

The fruits of this species are edible and tasty, though must be sampled with care! (Thanks to Claire Ciafre for her intrepid leadership in taste tests.) A synonym for this species is Grossularia cynosbati (L.) Mill.

Photographs taken at Crawford Estate Conservation Area, Clark County, MO, 7-8-2017, and at Salt Lick Point, Monroe County, IL, 5-1-2018 (SRTurner).