Ribes cynosbati L.

Prickly gooseberry

Ribes cynosbati plant

Family - Grossulariaceae

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


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


Ribes_cynosbati_petioleStem and leaf petiole.

Inflorescence - Small umbellate clusters of 1-4 flowers.


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


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


Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Shaded bluffs, bottomland forests.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other info. - This is one of the less common Missouri species of Ribes, occurring in scattered counties in the eastern half of the state. 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. The leaf petioles are also glandular.
The fruits of this species are edible and tasty, though must be sampled with care! (Thanks to Claire for her intrepid leadership in taste tests.)

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).