Several distinct forms of this species have been recognized in the past, but M. R. Mesler and J. O. Sawyer Jr. (1993) concluded that the differences are not sufficient for recognizing these taxa[
Grossularia senilis Coville
Ribes hysterix Eastw.
Ribes senile (Coville) Fedde
Ribes subvestitum Hook. & Arn.
Common Name: Canyon Gooseberry
Ribes menziesii is a spiny deciduous shrub with erect stems; it can grow 100 - 200cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Western N. America - Oregon, California.
Ravines, wooded canyon slopes; at elevations up to 1,800 metres[
]. Coastal ranges from California to Oregon[
Ribes menziesii is very cold hardy, when dormant it can tolerate temperatures falling to around -20°c[
Easily grown in a moisture retentive but well-drained loamy soil of at least moderate quality[
]. Requires a very sunny position[
This species is often confused with Ribes lobbii[
A very prickly plant, making picking the fruit difficult[
]. Ribes californicum is a non-prickly relative[
White pine blister rust, caused by the pathogen Cronartium ribicola, is a fungal disease that is native to Asia but has spread via human activity to many other regions, where it has become more virulent. It has a complex life-cycle that requires both currants (Ribes species) and white pines (Pinus species of the section Strobus) for the disease to spread. Whilst Ribes species can generally live with the disease (it has an annual life-cycle and infects the leaves only) Pinus species can be devastated by it (it becomes perennial and spreads through the tree). Young pines are far more susceptible than mature trees. In America the growing of certain Ribes species is banned in some areas in order to protect plantations of white pine species.
Plants in this genus tend to be notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Used for making jam[
]. Not very palatable[
]. A gooseberry, it is often scalded before being eaten[
]. The reddish purple, ellipsoid-globose fruit is around 10 - 13mm in diameter[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at between 0 and 5°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, mid summer in a frame[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year's growth, late autumn to late winter in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors[