Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Appalachian Gooseberry - Ribes rotundifolium   Michaux
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Grossulariaceae
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DistributionEssentially throughout the Mountains, though no records for a few counties (mostly in the southern region where elevations are lower). As with the two other Ribes species, it is not found in the neighboring Piedmont.

This species has a smaller range than our other Ribes, being limited to just the Appalachian region from NY and MA southwest to northwestern SC. It has yet to be found in GA or KY.
AbundanceGenerally fairly common, but seldom common, at high elevations, almost always above 4000 feet, rarely lower. Though not as widespread as R. cynosbati, in its favored habitats it can usually be more readily found than the others.
HabitatThis species favors high elevation shrub balds, margins of grassy balds, edges and opening of high elevation forests, and high elevation rocky forests and boulderfields. Thus, its habitat overlaps with the other two Ribes, though this species tends to be found more in sunny or partly sunny areas and less in dense shade than the others.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits from June to September.
IdentificationThis is a rather small deciduous shrub, growing only to 2-3 feet high; it may have a few nodal spines but may be rather spineless, certainly less spiny than R. cynosbati. The alternate leaves are rather small, often only 1-1.5 inches long and wide, and the 3 or 5 lobes are somewhat more rounded (or less toothed) than on other Ribes species. The small flowers are on long pedicels, one to several greenish flowers in a leaf axil. The small rounded fruits are purple and smooth, unlike the prickly fruit of the other two Ribes. Of the three Ribes species, this is the one that is usually identified by process of elimination; R. glandulosum leans and sprawls and has spiny fruit, whereas R. cynosbati is erect but almost always has many small spines on the stems as well as the fruits. Though all three can theoretically be seen in the same habitat and the same area, you will be lucky to see all three within an hour or two.
Taxonomic CommentsNone in recent decades

Other Common Name(s)Roundleaf Gooseberry
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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