Swamp Gooseberry


(Ribes hirtellum)

smooth gooseberry fruit
Nadiatalent, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
smooth gooseberry young fruit
Nadiatalent, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
smooth gooseberry flowers
Nadiatalent, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
smooth gooseberry leaves
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swamp gooseberry is a small, upright, and spreading deciduous shrub native to North America. It can be found in clearings, swampy woodlands, or rocky areas. It usually prefers nutrient rich sites with lots of moisture, but can grow on rocky terrain as well. R. uva-crispa and R. oxyacanthoides are closely related to swamp gooseberry.

The leaves are palmately-lobed, hairy, and bluntly serrated; dark green on-top, and paler underneath. Stems are woody, prickly, and with one to 3 spines at each node.

Flowers appear in April. The appearance is tubular and greenish, opening up to petals of white or purplish. The shrub is self pollinating (male and female flowers) but assisted primarily by bees. The fruit is green, turning reddish to purplish black and translucent. It's pleasant in taste and can be eaten raw or cooked in jams, jellies, or pies. For this reason, the shrub is often cultivated for its fruit.

Swamp gooseberry is suceptable to honey fungus and is an alternate host for white pine blister rust. Since swamp gooseberry is resistant to American gooseberry mildew it's often crossed with the European gooseberry to create disease resistant crops.


Canadensys. (2020). Ribes hirtellum. Retrieved from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/name/Ribes%20hirtellum

Natural Resources Conservation Service. (n.d.). Ribes hirtellum Michx. Retrieved from https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=RIHI#

Plants For A Future. (n.d.). Ribes hirtellum - Michx. Retrieved from https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ribes+hirtellum

S.J. Meades and W.J. Meades. 2019+. Flora of Newfoundland and Labrador. Web design by Mirämar Design Studio, Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Published online. URL: https://www.newfoundland-labradorflora.com/