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Bitter Gooseberry
Ribes amarum

About Bitter Gooseberry (Ribes amarum) Ribes amarum is a species of currant known by the common name bitter gooseberry. It is endemic to California, where it is known from mountains, foothills, and canyons. Its habitat includes chaparral. Ribes amarum is a shrub growing to one to two meters (40-80 inches) in height. Nodes along the stem each bear three spines up to a centimeter (0. 4 inch) in length. The hairy, glandular leaves are 2 to 4 centimeters (0. 8-1. 6 inches) long and generally rounded in shape, divided into 3 to 5 rounded toothed lobes. The inflorescence is a solitary flower or raceme of up to three flowers which hang from leaf axils. The showy flower has five pointed sepals in shades of purple-red which are reflexed upward. At the center is a tubular corolla of white or pink-tinged petals around five stamens and two styles. The fruit is a bristly berry up to 2 centimeters wide which is bright red, ripening purple.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 - 6.6 ft (1 - 2 m)

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Red, White, Pink, Purple

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting

Elevation ?
7' - 8201'

Annual Precip. ?
10.9" - 70.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.58"

Coldest Month ?
30.9° F - 54.4° F

Hottest Month ?
55.2° F - 79.9° F

Humidity ?
0.87 vpd - 26.36 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Landscaping Information
Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 1-2 mos. stratification.  For propagating by seed: 1-2 mos. stratification.

Common uses
Hummingbird Gardens, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Ribes amarum var. hoffmannii

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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