Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

Featured Fruit — Gooseberry

March 23, 2002

GOOSEBERRY  Ribes spp.  Saxifragaceae

 

Gooseberries are shrubs which grow best in cool climates with cold winters.  American gooseberries have weeping stems and will root themselves where they touch the ground.  The leaves are glossy and dark green, deeply lobed, and grow alternately along the stem.  The stems are woody and carry thorns at each axil, which can make harvesting difficult.  Flowers are small and green with a pink flush, borne along the stems of one year old wood and on spurs on older wood.  The fruit is often green, but may also be white, yellow, or even pink, purple, or almost black.  Fruit color is most intense when exposed to sun.  Plants do not do well in excessive heat or light, and the leaves are easily sun burned.  When growing gooseberries, supply plenty of potassium and a moderate amount of nitrogen.  Magnesium is also an important nutrient for gooseberries, so use dolomitic limestone if you lime.  A single bush may produce between eight and ten pounds of fruit.  Gooseberries used for tarts and pies are usually picked underipe.  For fresh fruit desserts, the berries should be fully ripe.