Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Ribes divaricatum

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Botanical Name : Ribes divaricatum
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
Species: R. divaricatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Synonyms : Grossularia divaricata. Steud.

Common Names: Coastal Black Gooseberry, Spreading gooseberry, Parish’s gooseberry, Straggly gooseberry. wild gooseberry and, in the UK, Worcesterberry.

Habitat :Ribes divaricatum is native to Western N. America. It grows on open woods, prairies and moist hillsides.

Ribes divaricatum is a deciduous shrub sometimes reaching 3 meters in height with woody branches with one to three thick brown thorns at leaf nodes. The leaves are generally palmate in shape and edged with teeth. The blades are up to 6 centimeters long and borne on petioles.

The inflorescence is a small cluster of hanging flowers, each with reflexed purple-tinted green sepals and smaller, lighter petals encircling long, protruding stamens. The fruit is a sweet-tasting berry up to a centimeter wide which is black when ripe. It is similar to Ribes lacustre and Ribes lobbii, but the former has smaller, reddish to maroon flowers and the latter has reddish flowers that resemble those of fuchsias and sticky leaves.  CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Easily grown in a moisture retentive but well-drained loamy soil of at least moderate quality. Requires a very sunny position if it is to do well. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. This species is closely allied to R. rotundifolium. Immune to mildew, this species is a parent of many mildew resistant hybrids and is being used in breeding programmes in Europe. Plants can harbour a stage of white pine blister rust, so should not be grown in the vicinity of pine trees. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there is at least one named variety.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 4 – 5 months cold stratification at between 0 to 9°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible. Under normal storage conditions the seed can remain viable for 17 years or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 – 15cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year’s growth, November to February in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. Sweet and juicy. A very acceptable flavour, though a bit on the acid side. It is considered to be one of the finest wild N. American gooseberries. The fruit is sometimes harvested before it is fully ripe and then cooked. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter. On the wild species the fruit can hang on the plant until the autumn (if the birds leave it alone). Young leaves and unripe fruits are used to make a sauce.
Medicinal Uses:

The inner bark has been chewed, and the juice swallowed, as a treatment for colds and sore throats. A decoction of the bark or the root has been used as an eye wash for sore eyes. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of sore throats, venereal disease and tuberculosis. The burnt stems have been rubbed on neck sores.

Other Uses:
The roots have been boiled with cedar (Juniperus spp, Thuja sp.) and wild rose (Rosa spp) roots, then pounded and woven into rope. The sharp thorns have been used as probes for boils, for removing splinters and for tattooing.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.