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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.

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Tuesday - December 29, 2009

From: Bismarck, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Period to maturity of gooseberries in Bismarck AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How long does it take to produce gooseberries after planting?

ANSWER:

There are 11 members of the Ribes genus native to North America, of which two, Ribes cynosbati (eastern prickly gooseberry) and Ribes missouriense (Missouri gooseberry) are native to Arkansas. This genus also includes currants. The Ribes cynosbati (eastern prickly gooseberry) appears to grow naturally in the immediate area of Hot Spring County, Arkansas, and we are going to use that one as an example.

The spreading branches of this erect, 2-5 ft. shrub may be prickly or smooth; both occurring on the same plant. The purplish berry is always bristly. The palmately lobed leaves and their petioles are hairy. Small whitish flowers occur in small clusters. These flowers appear for about 2 weeks in late Spring, with the berries maturing July to September. 

Unfortunately, we could find no information on how long after this bush was planted you could expect to see berries. It is a perennial, and we would assume it will begin to bloom the first season it is in the ground, followed by berries. However, a small bush is not going to produce much, and it will probably be two to three years before the crop is of significant size. We are not personally experienced in the growth habits of this bush, and suggest you contact the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office for Hot Spring County for closer to home information. 

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