Sierra Gooseberry flowers

Sierra Gooseberry (Ribes roezlii)

Family:  Gooseberry (Grossulariaceae)

Habitat:  Sierra Gooseberry is one of the early bloomers heralding spring in the foothills, but I've also seen it growing at elevations up to 7,000 feet along Glacier Point Road.

Size: The flowers are small, resembling miniature Christmas tree lights in size and shape, and you'll need to get down on the ground and examine them up close, possibly with a magnifying glass, to be properly impressed. The plants are easy to spot, though; the flowers grow on shrubs that can spread four or five feet in diameter and grow equally tall.

While you've got your magnifying glass out, check the lower leaves for glandular hairs. If you find them, you're actually in the presence of the less common Bitter Gooseberry (Ribes amarum).

Flowering Season:  February - June

Lifespan:  Perennial

Origins:  Native (see distribution maps for California and U.S./Canada)

Ribes roezlii etymology:  Ribes comes from the Arabic word for - well, Ribes. Roezlii honors Czech botanist Benedikt Roezl (1823 - 1885), the first man in history to replace his severed hand with an iron hook and then go on to discover more than 800 species of orchid in Mexico and South America. [1] [2]

This Photo:  Near the Fresno River north of Oakhurst, late February. Elevation about 2,300 feet (700 meters).

Other Resources:   CalFlora  ·  CalPhotos  ·  USDA

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