Ribes roezlii

Sierra gooseberry


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Rosidae. Order - Rosales. Family - Grossulariaceae (currant). Genus - Ribes L. Species - Ribes roezlii Regel

Ecology : Sierra gooseberry is common on disturbed sites. It tolerates open to partially closed canopies. Sierra gooseberry is a pioneer species, growing in primary-succession forests but most abundantly in secondary-succession forests. The passage of time following a disturbance decreases the density of Sierra gooseberry, probably due to decreased soil moisture and nutrients. Sierra gooseberry is a pioneer species in the succession of mixed-conifer forests dominated by sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) in the Sierra Nevada and eventually is suppressed by coniferous reproduction due to competition for soil moisture and nutrients. In California, Sierra gooseberry occurs in secondary-succession montane chaparral.


Plants 0.5-1.2 m. Stems erect, pubescent; spines at nodes 1-3, 4-8 mm; prickles on internodes absent. Leaves: petiole 0.6-1.8 cm, pubescent; blade roundish, 3-5-lobed, cleft 1/3-3/4 to midrib, 1.2-2.5 cm, base truncate to cordate, surfaces glabrous, softly ciliate, or puberulent or densely hoary-pubescent, not glandular abaxially, puberulent adaxially, lobes rounded, margins toothed, apex rounded. Inflorescences pendent, solitary flowers or 2-flowered racemes, 2-4 cm, axis short-pubescent, stipitate-glandular. Pedicels not jointed, 1-2 mm, pubescent, stipitate-glandular; bracts broadly ovate, 4-5 mm, pubescent, stipitate-glandular. Flowers: hypanthium maroon, narrowly tubular, 6 mm (1/2 as long as sepals), glabrous, puberulent, or densely hoary-pubescent, not stipitate-glandular; sepals not overlapping, reflexed, maroon, lanceolate, 7-10 mm; petals connivent, erect, white, oblong, inrolled, 3-5 mm; nectary disc not prominent; stamens 1.5-2 times as long as petals; filaments linear, 4-5 mm, glabrous; anthers maroon, lanceolate, somewhat sagittate, 3-4 mm, apex apiculate; ovary white-hairy and bristly, a few bristles gland-tipped; styles connate nearly to middle, 9-11 mm, glabrous. Berries palatable, purple, globose, 14-25 mm, pubescent, stipitate-glandular, longer hairs not gland-tipped, with long, stout, glandular or eglandular spines.


Fire effects: Sierra gooseberry is top-killed by fire. Postfire response of Sierra gooseberry is related to the severity and intensity of the fire. Sierra gooseberry sprouts from the root crown following fire, and fire stimulates germination of seeds. Sierra gooseberry seedlings tend to appear the 1st spring following a fire.

Pests and pathogens: White pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) is a fungus that attacks both wild and cultivated species of gooseberry and currant. The wild species stink currant (R. bracteosum), flowering currant (R. sanguineum), Sierra gooseberry (R. roezlii), and Sierra currant (R. nevadense) are very susceptible. The white or five-needled pine is an alternate host for the fungus. Rust of white pine has caused severe losses. Susceptible currants and gooseberries cannot be planted safely nearer than 1000 ft and preferably 0.5 mile from white pine. Ribes and white pines are adapted to disturbance and frequently co-occur in fo rest and woodland ecosystems.


Flowering and fruiting: The flowers of Sierra gooseberry are wind pollinated and bisexual. Seed crops are produced when Sierra gooseberry plants are 2 to 5 years old and are spread by animals including American black bears, rodents, and probably birds, mule deer, and cattle. Seeds are also spread by water, especially during spring runoff, and gravity. Seeds of Ribes remain viable in the soil for long periods of time.

Vegetative regeneration: Sierra gooseberry regenerates by layering and sprouting from the root crowns.

Species Distribution


Photo credit: Sara Germain 2015

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

USFS Plant Database
Habeck, R. J. 1992. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

The Jepson Herbarium
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

CalPhotos Photo Database. University of California Berkeley.
Photo credit: Steven Thorsted 2001
Photo credit: RT Hawke 2014

PNW Plant Diseases
PNW Plant Disease Management Handbook. 2016 [Online]. Pacific Northwest Extension. Oregon State University.