Gooseberries - Prickly (Pasture) Gooseberry - Ribes cynosbati, Missouri Gooseberry - R. missouriense, Roundleaf Gooseberry - R. rotundifolium, Smooth Gooseberry - R. hirtellum

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

Gooseberry family - Small densely twiggy shrubs with rounded tops and spreading or aching branches. Sometimes prickly and stems with shredding, flaky bark. 1 to 3 thorns at the base of each leaf. Leaves deciduous, simple, 3 to 5 lobes and alternate.
  Form: Rounded shrubs with spreading or aching branches. Mature heights are 3 to 5 feet for Prickly, 7 feet for Missouri, 3 feet for Roundleaf and 3 feet for Smooth.
  Thorns: Prickly - Twigs gray to dark brown with or without a few bristles between the thorns.
Missouri - Large thorns up to to inch long.
Roundleaf - Short thorns to inch long.
Smooth - Short thorns of to 1/3 inch long and a few bristles on stems.
  Leaves: Prickly - Soft hairy
Missouri - Smooth
Roundleaf - Smooth with rounded lobes.
Smooth - Smooth with pointed lobes.
  Flowers and Fruit: Prickly - Flowers greenish (May-June) fruit red-purple, covered with long spines (July-Sept.)
Missouri - Flowers whitish (April-May), fruit black, smooth (June-Sept.)
Roundleaf - Flowers green to purple (April-June), fruit smooth, tasty (June-Sept.)
Smooth - Flowers green to purple (April-July), fruit black, smooth, tasty (June-Sept.).
West Virginia Range:
Prickly - Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Upshur, and Wetzel.
Missouri - Rare, currently known only from Wayne.
Roundleaf - Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Marshall, Mineral, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker.
Smooth - Rare, known only from Kanawha.
Natural Habitat:
Prickly - Rocky woods.
Missouri - Open woods, thickets, and fencerows.
Roundleaf - Rocky woods of mountains.
Smooth - Rocky, swampy woods.
Wildlife Use:
Fruits are eaten by a variety of songbirds such as catbird, bluejay and robin, as well as grouse, mourning dove and bobwhite. Also eaten by chipmunk, raccoon, rabbit and skunk. Twigs and bark are sometimes eaten by deer and mice.
Uses: Specimen, hedge or small groupings.
Light: Light shade.
Soil moisture: Moist, well-drained soil.
Soil pH: Medium acid.
Problems: Leaves can be damaged or killed by anthracnose, rusts or leaf spots.

Gooseberries are alternate hosts for white pine blister rust and native plants are eradicated in areas where white pine is a commercial timber tree (primarily eastern West Virginia). Quarantine regulations prevent gooseberries from being planted in these areas of West Virginia.

Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife extension specialist, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core