Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Prickly Gooseberry - Ribes cynosbati   L.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Grossulariaceae
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DistributionStrictly in the Mountains, present in essentially all montane counties in the state.

This is a Northern species, as are most Ribes species. It occurs over eastern Canada and the US south to NJ, the Appalachians south to northern AL, and the Ozarks and Ouachitas in AR and eastern OK.
AbundanceGenerally fairly common. It is found mostly over 4000 feet, but it does occur somewhat lower in elevation though much less common at such middle elevations.
HabitatThis species occurs in cool forests, such as northern hardwood forests and high elevation cove forests, especially where somewhat moist and especially where rocky, such as in forested seepages. It also occurs in boulderfield forests, as well as on some shrub balds or margins of grassy balds.
PhenologyBlooms in May and June, and fruits from July to September.
IdentificationThis is a fairly small deciduous shrub with long and often arching branches, even though it is generally an upright shrub; it grows to about 3 feet tall. As with all Ribes species, the branches contain small nodal spines and scattered prickles. It has small alternate leaves that are maple-shaped with 3 or 5 lobes, and also with blunt teeth, growing to about 2 inches long and about as wide. The 1-3 flowers from a node are drooping on long pedicels and are greenish and rather unremarkable. However, the purplish, round fruits are quite spiny; the fruit are about 1/3-inch across. Though the species would seem to be easy to identify, the other two Ribes in the state may grow with it and need to be distinguished carefully. Ribes rotundifolium has somewhat similar leaves, though often smaller, usually growing in more open or exposed sites, and it always has smooth fruit. Ribes glandulosum is a leaning or sprawling shrub growing mainly in boulderfields and rocky ground, and it has leaves notably wider than long. As mentioned above, though found in essentially all mountain counties, and not particularly local, it is not a shrub that you encounter every time you walk through a high elevation hardwood forest.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Dogberry, Eastern Prickly Gooseberry
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieSame data. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorrieMontane northwest GA. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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