E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Ribes oxyacanthoides L.
northern gooseberry (Canadian gooseberry; northern smooth gooseberry)
Grossulariaceae (Currant family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #84205)

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Distribution of Ribes oxyacanthoides
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Ribes oxyacanthoides ssp. oxyacanthoides

Species Information

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Deciduous shrub, loosely branched, 0.5-1.5 m tall; stems erect to spreading, bristly-hairy and usually with 1-3, slender, 0.8-1 cm long, nodal spines; bark yellowish brown to greyish-brown or grey.
Alternate, broadly egg-shaped, heart-shaped at the base, 1-5 cm wide, 3- to 5-lobed about half their length, the lobes rounded, deeply toothed, short glandular-hairy; stalks equal to or slightly longer than the blades, densely hairy and usually short glandular-hairy.
Inflorescence of usually 1-3 flowers in a drooping to spreading raceme much shorter than the leaves; flower stalks 1-3 mm long, not jointed below the flowers, glandular; petals whitish, egg-shaped, 2-3.5 mm long; hypanthium nearly cylindric to bell-shaped, 2-6 mm long; calyces pale greenish-white, glabrous to finely hairy; styles fused and soft-hairy to about midlength, about equaling the stamens.
Berries, round, reddish to deep-purplish blue, 1-1.2 cm long, glabrous.
Three subspecies occur in BC:

1. Flowers mostly 8-11 mm long with sepals extended; leaves not glandular below.................. ssp. irriguum (Dougl.) Sinnott

1. Flowers about 7 mm long with sepals extended; leaves usually glandular short-hairy below

2. Hypanthium 5-6 mm long, not or only slightly flared; petals (2.5) 3.0-3.5 mm long; plants rare in SC BC...................... ssp. cognatum (Greene) Sinnott
2. Hypanthium 2.5-3.5 mm long, bell-shaped, flared; petals 2.0-2.5 mm long; the widely distributed subspecies...................... ssp. oxyacanthoides

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist woodlands, thickets and forest openings (ssp. cognatum and ssp. irriguum) or dry, open forest and rocky slopes (ssp. oxycanthoides) in the montane zone; frequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains (ssp. oxycanthoides), infrequent in SC and SE BC (ssp. irriguum), rare in SC BC (ssp. cognatum); N to S AK, YT and NT, E to PQ and S to PA, IL, MN, NE and WY.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ribes oxyacanthoides

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 30 819 1910
Slope Gradient (%) 0 16 230
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 288 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(10), BWBS(170), CDF(1), CWH(10), ESSF(12), ICH(18), IDF(75), MS(12), PP(3), SBPS(16), SBS(134), SWB(3)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Grossularia hirtella (Michx.) Spach
Ribes hirtellum var. calcicola (Fernald) Fernald
Ribes hirtellum var. saxosum (Hook.) Fernald
Ribes oxyacanthoides var. calcicola Fernald
Ribes oxyacanthoides var. hirtellum (Michx.) Scoggan
Ribes oxyacanthoides var. saxosum (Hook.) Coville

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References