Gooseberries can be distinguished from Currants because they have prickles and spines on their stems. Otherwise, they are members of the same family. The Swamp Gooseberry is very common along streams, lakes, swamps, and moist forest slopes. We found this example next to Bob’s Lake on Texada Island growing in the shade of a fir tree.
Swamp Gooseberries grow at low elevations from northern California to southern Vancouver Island. The plants are from three to five feet tall and have reddish flowers in June. The glossy green leaves are small and maple-shaped with five indented lobes. Dark red or purple berries form in late summer. The berries are edible but don’t have the most pleasant flavour raw, but it is said that their juice can be made into wine.
Caution should be taken because the spines can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
References: Wild Berries of the Pacific Northwest by J.E. (Ted) Underhill (Hancock House, 1974), and Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine, 1994).
ABC Wednesday blog. This is the nineteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and with help from Denise and Leslie. They are looking for more volunteers. Otherwise, the tradition may end with Round 20 a year from now. -- Margy