Gooseberry

Fruiting gooseberry bush (Ribes uva-crispa)
The gooseberry is a straggling bush thickly set with sharp spines. Early summer, the discreet bell-shaped flowers turn into juicy green berries, which are sought after by the forager.

Table of Contents

Gooseberry: Plant profile

Common names

Gooseberry, European gooseberry, Goosegog, Groseille à maquereau

Botanical name

Ribes uva-crispa (syn. Ribes grossularia)

Plant family

Grossulariaceae (Gooseberries)

Distribution

Native to Europe, the Caucasus and northern Africa. Fairly common in the UK and Ireland, except in the highest mountainous areas.

Where to find Gooseberries

Hedgerows, wood margins, riversides and abandoned places.

When to find Gooseberries

Berries early to mid summer.

How to identify Gooseberry

Gooseberry is a small shrub growing to 1.2 m. Leaves are lobed with deeply toothed edges and palmate veins. The flower appear singularly or in pairs from the base of the leaves and are a pale green to cream in colour. The fruit can be green, yellow, red or purple, usually with fine hairs.

Gooseberry lookalikes

The leaves of Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) are quite similar to those of Gooseberry, but the fruit is completely different.

Gooseberry bush in flower (Ribes uva-crispa)

All about Gooseberry

The gooseberry is a straggling bush thickly set with sharp spines. Early summer, the discreet bell-shaped flowers turn into juicy green berries, which are sought after by the forager.

Gooseberries found in the wild are generally naturalised from bird-sown garden varieties and grown as escapees from cultivation, but the species is most considered native.

Medicinal properties of Gooseberries

Gooseberries are a rich source of vitamin C.

Culinary uses and recipes with Gooseberries

Gooseberries taste a bit like sharp grapes and pair very well with elderflower and fennel.

They may vary in size, ripeness and sweetness. The sweetest ones are best eaten straight from the bush, while tart or unripe ones can be made into sauce, which goes well with oily fish. Make desserts and puddings, such as gooseberry fool, sweet pie or crumble and preserves such as jam or jelly.

Gooseberries are also used to make drinks, such as flavoured vodka and country wine.

Fruiting gooseberry bush (Ribes uva-crispa)

Safe foraging of Gooseberries

Take care that spines  on the bush do not damage your fingers when you pick the berries.

The fresh leaves contain hydrogen cyanide and should not be consumed in large quantities.

Ecological importance of Gooseberry

Gooseberry provides a food source for pollinators

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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. As a forager and wild food educator, my aim is to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties, in the hope you'd pass on any knowledge gained down to the next generation.

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