En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Thursday - July 12, 2007

From: Seattle, WA
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Identification of gooseberry plant
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Grew up in Colorado, our yard and several near us had medium to large size deciduous shrubs that produced small (.25"-.375") red berries that were very tomato-like. Delicate with a thin skin, slightly translucent with striated color, gel-like inside with large amount of small, flat seeds. They grew in twos, attached to a common stem, like a cherry configuration, and progressed from small, hard green berries when new to tomato red when ripe. Small white flowers in late spring-early summer. The foliage were small, dark leaves; branches were twiggy, straw colored. Thanks for your assistance.

ANSWER:

You have given a pretty good description of a gooseberry or currant, Ribes sp. We think that the plant you describe is probably White-stem gooseberry (also called White-stem currant), Ribes inerme. Ribes hirtellum, hairy-stem gooseberry, a native to the Great Lakes region and often found in Colorado landscapes is another possibilities. There are other Ribes species native to Colorado, but the characteristics you listed seem to best fit White-stem currant.

Currants and gooseberries, many of which make wonderful jellies, were once an important fruit crop in the United States. When the genus, Ribes was discovered to be an alternate host for White Pine Blister Rust, war was declared on currants, especially on the European native black currant, Ribes nigrum, early in the twentieth century. The fungal disease, which needs both pines and currants as hosts for the two parts of its life cycle, is damaging to infected Ribes plants, but devastating to Pinus strobus (eastern white pine) and other North American 5-leaf pines. The economic importance of pines necessitated drastic measures to protect the pine trees. Those measures included a federal law (since rescinded) mandating the eradication of all known Ribes nigrum plants and making it illegal to possess them. Though the federal ban is no longer in effect, some states still prohibit growing European black currant. Consequently, currants and gooseberries, still an important fruit crop in Europe, is today little-known in most of North America.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Oak trees shedding leaves in Denton TX
May 27, 2012 - In Denton, TX we have two mature Quercus buckleyi. It is May 11th 2012 and one of these trees has been shedding green leaves for the last week. The only changes we have made are: planted English ivy...
view the full question and answer

Location of Alamo fungicide kit from Georgetown TX
July 03, 2012 - Where can I buy the Alamo fungicide injection kit shown in the oak wilt video?
view the full question and answer

Growths on Shumard Red Oak leaves from Katy TX
April 01, 2013 - Our beautiful Shumard Red Oak has developed lots of light green grape like growths on the leaves. Please inform us what this could be and how we should treat it?
view the full question and answer

Red spider mites in native bluebonnets in Austin
April 02, 2008 - What would you do if the WFC bluebonnets developed a bad case of red spider mites? That is what has happened to many of mine here in Austin. I noticed them the other day and I must have been asleep be...
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center