Picture 1885 - Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé
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Photo ©2004 - Factumquintus
Gooseberry - Ribes uva-crispa
Family - Grossulariaceae
Also known as - Goose-gogs
Gooseberry is native to Europe, North Western Africa and South Western Asia. It is one of several similar species in the subgenus Grossularia, a few taxonomists treat Grossularia as a separate genus, although hybrids between Gooseberry and Blackcurrant are possible. The subgenus Grossularia differs somewhat from currants, chiefly in their spiny stems, and in that their flowers grow one to three together on short stems, not in racemes. It is a straggling prickly shrub which has become widely naturalised growing to 1-3m (3-10 feet) tall, the branches being thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in diverging tufts of two or three from the bases of the short spurs or lateral leaf shoots. The bell-shaped flowers, attractive to solitary bees are produced from March to May, singly or in pairs, from groups of rounded, deeply-crenated three or five lobed leaves. Gooseberry bushes produce an edible fruit which is generally hairy, the fruit of wild gooseberries is smaller than cultivated varieties. The fruit is usually green, but there are red variants and occasionally deep purple berries occur. Wild gooseberry bushes are often found in copses, hedgerows and waste ground, but has been in cultivation for so long that it is difficult to distinguish wild bushes from feral ones. Gooseberry bushes are vulnerable to Magpie Moth - Abraxas grossulariata caterpillars, however is the food plant for many moths in their larval stage.
Large berries can be produced by heavy composting so Gooseberry was occasionally planted as a fence around cesspits, providing a reasonably impenetrable fence and fruit into the bargain. Gooseberries are often used as an ingredient in desserts, such as pies, fools and crumbles. They are also used as a flavour for various drinks, flavoured waters, or milk, and can be made into wines and teas. Gooseberries can be preserved in the form of jams, dried fruit, or as the primary or a secondary ingredient in pickling, or stored in sugar syrup.
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