South Dakota Native Plant Research
Grossulariaceae : Ribes hirtellum

Grossulariaceae : Ribes hirtellum


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Family Name


Common Name

Hairystem gooseberry


Ribes hirtellum is a perennial shrub, with erect to ascending stems with 1-3 nodal spines or often lacking these spines, the stems growing 0.5-1.5 m in height. The internodal prickles are few when present. The upper stems develop thin gray bark, shedding away along with any prickles, and the older branches are brown. The simple, alternate leaves are usually clustered on short lateral shoots, with slender, hairy petioles are up to 5 cm in length, often longer than the blades. The blades are almost round in outline, 1-5-3.5 cm long and 2-4 cm wide, with 3 major lobes and 2 smaller outer lobes. The margins have shallow, rounded teeth. The flowers are solitary or in small clusters along the stem, with slender, hairy pedicels 5-8 mm long. The flower parts form a yellow to lightly purplish, bell-shaped, hypanthium that is 5-8 mm long with 5 light green, flared sepals 3-4 mm long, and with 5, erect petals, 1-2 mm long. There are 5 stamens, opposite the sepals, 3-5 mm long, exerted above the petals. The fruit is a smooth, blue to black, ovoid to spherical berry, 8-10 mm in diameter, with persisting floral remnants on the end. Hairystem gooseberry blooms in May and June in rocky woods, along hillsides, in ravines and thickets along the eastern edge and western half of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Like all of the other Ribes species, the fruit of the hairystem gooseberry is edible and makes a good pie. The plants are brambly in appearance and the flowers are not particularly showy. The flowers attract native bees and the fruit attract birds and small mammals. This species is an alternate host to white pine blister rust.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Pick the fruit when it is ripe and remove the seeds by maceration.

Germination: The seeds are dormant when harvested. Fall sowing or a 90-day cold treatment will encourage germination.

Vegetative propagation: Root suckers are easily divided and transplanted.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.Soil: Well drained sandy or rocky soils preferred but this species is adaptable to a wide range of garden soils.

Water: Does best with moderately moist soils but tolerates drier conditions.

Grossulariaceae : Ribes hirtellum