Gooseberries were once much more common in North America than they currently are. Their popularity was diminished when back in the 1930s Gooseberries were banned as they were carriers of white pine blister rust which was decimating the logging industry. They should be kept away from susceptible trees which in addition to white pine also includes Black locust and sugar maple.
There are 2 basic types of Gooseberry American (Ribes hirtellum) and European (R. grossularia). There are also similar fruits that bear the name gooseberry which are not true goose berries, most are varieties of currants which are similar.
American Gooseberries are indigenous to New England and some neighboring regions of Canada and the mid Atlantic states. They are hardier than their European cousins but have smaller fruits and some say are inferior in taste.
Amish Red. Medium red berries, fairly productive, sweeter than most.
Captivator hybrid cross of American and European varieties. Red fruits, pointed ate upper end.
Glendale was Bred by the USDA in the 1930s. Relatively tall bush that produces very prolifically. Berries a very small and purplish red. Heat and sun resistant and grows well in warmer climates where other gooseberries dare not tread.
Jahns Prairie. Good disease resistance , good sweet flavor comparable to European varieties. Good for preserves or fresh eating.
Oregon Champion Medium to large yellowish green berries. Favored for preserves.
Poorman Larger than most American varieties. Productive and vigorous, with mid sized fruit. It is a good cultivar for the home garden.
Pixwell. More easily grown than many others. Extremely hardy. Medium sized fruit that morphs from green to purple while ripening.
European Gooseberries tend to be larger and by some accounts tastier than American gooseberries. They are at times the size of a plum but generally a tad smaller. They come in variant shades of white and yellow, reds and purples and most shades in between.
Achilles Large red sweet fruit. Mid-season variety . Best for cooking when green and fresh eating when red ripe.
Early Sulfur Fuzzy Yellow with ‘peach fuzz’, Good flavor but poor diseas resistance.
Greenfinch produces pale green berries on a small bush. Some resistance to mildews. Mid season.
Hinnonmaki. Finnish heirloom prized for its tart skin and sweet flesh. Yellow and Red varieties. Medium sized fruits.
Invicta Very large fruit with bland flavor. Good disease resistance for a European variety.
Leveller Large Yellow Fruit.
Telegraph Very large yellow fruits with a mediocre flavor.
Whinham’s Industry. Slow growing rounded yellow berries that at times appear reddish due to the many red thistles of the plant. Good Flavor.
Tixia. Large thornless hybrid variety of Gooseberry. Some disease resistance, red fruits, good productivity.
Other and False Gooseberries
False gooseberries are other fruits, sometimes similar to gooseberry that bear the name gooseberry. Cape gooseberry for instance is very popular, but is not a true gooseberry it’s a ground cherry, which is not a true cherry but more closely related to tomatoes and tomatillos.
Tasti Berry is only half gooseberry. It’s a hybrid cross between a Black Currant and gooseberry. Sweet berry grows on a very thorny shrub.
Otaheite gooseberry. Despite its name, it does not resemble gooseberry all that much in appearance although it is very acidic like gooseberry. It is used more as ornamental plant.
Barbados gooseberry is a cactus like plant that is considered invasive in some places. It produces a small edible fruit similar to gooseberry in appearance.
Ceylon Gooseberry is not a true Gooseberry, but very similar. Botanically it is classified as ‘Dovyalis’ a genus of thorny shrubs and small trees. There are a number of varieties with similar characteristics. Orange when unripe and a deep variegated purple when mature. It is covered with short prickly grayish green hairs. The skin is extremely bitter, the flesh is tart and juicy, similar to cranberry in taste. Best eaten fresh when over ripe after removing the skin, otherwise it is excellent for preserves.
Chinese Gooseberry are Kiwi fruits of which there are several common species.
Jostaberry is a hybrid cross of gooseberry and currants.