Gooseberries

(Ribes grossularia) Deciduous. Zone 3-8.

Gooseberry is an extremely hardy native shrub that grows in even the harshest Northern climates. You may remember gooseberries as hard, green sour berries, but newer cultivars produce fruit as large as a grape, come in a rainbow of colours, and taste quite sweet!

With dense spreading branches, tough thorns, and small hairy leaves, Gooseberry isn’t a focal point plant, but so worthy of a spot in your perennial gardens as a food source for a wide variety of birds and butterflies (and people, too)! Gooseberry flowers grow in greenish-pink clusters and its lobed, green leaves turn vibrant yellow and red in Fall. The oval fruit ranges from white, red, yellow, or green, depending on cultivar.

Gooseberries are extremely versatile and nutritious, and have long been popular in Europe and around the world. They can be used to make a champagne-like wine, rich desserts, preserves, and bring a kick of bright acidity to meat dishes. Yellow gooseberries have the richest flavour while red gooseberries are more tart-sweet.

As you can imagine, with its prickly thorns, Gooseberry is deer and rabbit resistant.

The 3-4 high bushes bear fruit for 10-20 years, with the most fruit on 2-3 year old spurs. Annual pruning will increase productivity and make for easier harvest. Gooseberry thrives in moist, heavy clay soil.