Gooseberry - Ribes uva-crispa

Main features

  • A naturalised shrub that is often cultivated

  • Can be found wild in woodland and hedgerows, and on stream and river banks

  • Lobed leaves with deeply toothed edges

  • Leaves have palmate veins

  • Small green-petalled flowers appear singularly or in pairs at base of leaves

  • Stems have prickles

  • Flowers followed by spherical berries that mature to green, reddish-green, and reddish-purple

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Flowering Currant - Ribes rubrum

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Goosegogs, European Gooseberry

 

Scientific name meaning: Ribes is Arabic in origin and means "having sour sap". Uva is the Latin word for a grape, while Crispa means wrinkled or curled

Season Fruits Late Spring to Late Summer

Habitat - where will I find it? A naturalised agricultural and garden escapee that is often cultivated, it can be found growing wild in woodland and hedgerows, as well as the banks of rivers and streams

Description - what does it look like? 

Gooseberry has lobed leaves with deeply toothed edges. The leaf veins are palmate. 

The flower appear singularly or in pairs from the base of the leaves and are a discreet green-colour. 

The berries that follow ripen to green, reddish or reddish purple

Possible lookalikes Currants although these are also edible. Gooseberries have prickles on their stems and currants do not

Use as a food The berries can be used to make jams, jellies, cordials, wine, syrup, fruit leather, and chutneys. They can be sharp so usually require sugar to sweeten

Use in herbal medicine Has been used to treat constipation, rheumatism and scurvy

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses The berries are used in facemasks to reduce greasiness

Hazards The leaves contain hydrogen cyanide so should not be consumed in large quantities

Importance to other species Provides an important food source for pollinators, particularly bees

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!