Gooseberry , (ribes grossularia, Linn.), the name of a familiar garden fruit of small size. The original species is indigenous to England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, and has been found in the Himalayas, and on the banks of the Ganges (Royle). The cultivation of the gooseberry in gardens was first successfully undertaken by the Dutch; but up to the time of Miller it had gained but little reputation as a table fruit in England. Some suppose that the name originated from the use of the berry as a sauce for the goose; but Pryor states that it comes through the German Kreuzbeere from the Swedish Krusbar, meaning "frizzle berry" and "cross berry," the last having allusion to the triple spine, which is sometimes in the form of a cross. The gooseberry is represented in the United States by several species, of which the most common is the wild gooseberry (R. cynos-bati, Linn.), with large berries armed with long prickles like a bur, or rarely smooth-skinned; it is found from Canada to the Rocky mountains near the sources of the Platte river; its fruit is pleasant to the taste. The commonest smooth gooseberry of New England is the R. hirtellum (Mx.), with small, smooth, purple, sweet fruit.
Another species, R. rotundifolium (Mx.), grows upon rocky places in western Massachusetts, and extends to Wisconsin, and southward along the mountains to Virginia; this bears a smooth-skinned, pleasant fruit. The swamp gooseberry (R. lacustre, Poirot) is found in mountain swamps from Massachusetts and New York to the arctic circle, and, according to Douglas, in the mountains of Oregon and northern California; this species differs from others in its many-flowered racemes; its fruit is dark purple, and is unpleasant to the taste. The cultivation of the foreign varieties of the gooseberry is somewhat difficult in this country, in consequence of dry weather in the early summer succeeding the rains of the spring; and when the atmosphere is moist, though the soil is dry, the berries become overgrown with an insidious mildew (erysiphe mors uvoe, Schw.), which effectually prevents their perfect growth. Repeated application of a wash made with flowers of sulphur and lime will alone destroy this mildew, and save the crop; but the trouble is generally considered too great for the result.
A variety or hybrid, with good-sized berries of a greenish purple color and pleasant flavor, called "Houghton's seedling," originating in the vicinity of Boston, is free from the attacks of this fungus; this variety furnishes the greater part of the fruit sold in our markets. The cluster, Downing, and mountain seedling are other American varieties. The fruit in our markets is almost invariably sold in the green state for cooking purposes. The European varieties are seldom seen in this country except in the gardens of amateurs. In some of the manufacturing towns of England the operatives have gooseberry societies and hold exhibitions, the fruit being judged by weight. The gooseberry thrives best in a rather cool and partially shaded aspect; and it has been observed that the direct rays of the sun striking upon the bushes and fruit, when grown near walls and fences, cause the berries to scald, so that they fall, so rapid is the evaporation from its succulent tissues.
Gooseberry (Ribes grossularia).