Types of Gooseberries
There are two types of gooseberries, European gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) and American Gooseberries (Ribes hirtellum). European gooseberries have the advantage of being larger in size and are popular for being more flavorful. American gooseberries of the other side, are more heat tolerant and less susceptible of getting Powdery Mildew, a devastating but common fungal disease found in gooseberries and currants.
Despite this, there are many hybrids that bring both the flavor of the European gooseberry types and the disease resistance of the American types.
Different Gooseberry Varieties
Gooseberries have a lot of different varieties, all of them with distinct features that make them better for growing, easier to harvest, or tastier to the gardener. In the next list I will show some of the most popular varieties as well as others that I believe are pretty interesting.
In the next list, I will be focusing more on the main features of the cultivars rather than the type of soil, pest, best way to plant them, etc… This is because most of these varieties share the same characteristics in the terms of “best conditions for growth”. If you are interested in these other qualities, you can check this article on how to grow a gooseberry plant from seed
Let’s start with the well-known captivator gooseberry
Captivator is a hybrid between American and European gooseberries. This semi-thornless gooseberry combines the characteristics of providing delicious fruit while also being disease resistant, they grow well in sunny spots but don’t do well in very hot temperatures, mild summers are best for this variety. This cultivars are ready to harvest in the mid-summer.
The fruit from this cultivar goes from a greenish-red to a darker pink-red when ripe. This dessert gooseberry variety can be eaten straight from the hand when ripe and when un-ripe they can be used for culinary purposes.
Continuing with the dessert varieties, poorman is another sweet pink-red fruit yielder that will provide a great gooseberry harvesting season in the mid to late summer. This in an American type that is pretty popular in North America.
This is an American hybrid type that is reported to come from the union of “Houghton” and “Downing” varieties in the 1888. It has fewer thorns than the usual shrubs but I would still recommend wearing gloves when harvesting it.
This shrub likes to be in sunny spots in summer but as his other red fruited “captivating” companion, dislikes really hot summers and prefers to be in partial shade in really how weathers.
Hinnonmaki Red Gooseberry
Also called ‘Hinnonmäki Röd’ or ‘Hinonmaeki red’ is another dessert type red fruited cultivar that yields a high amount of fruit in the mid to late summer season.
Currently becoming very popular between the gardeners, this variety is greatly appreciated due to it’s excellent disease resistance, low amount of space required to cultivate it, and great amount of very sweet fruit yielded per season.
These are one of those really sweet varieties and also have many other advantages that make them a really good choice for gardeners who want some consistent results in their garden every season. Important to note, that as well as the other dessert varieties, they do well in sunny spots with some shade in very hot weathers.
Taking a little break from the dessert type gooseberries, Invicta is a European high-yield variety that produces very large fruits in the early to mid summer months.
While somewhat resistant to disease, it is still susceptible to White Pine Blister Rust, so it may be a good idea to get some information with your county’s office on the status of this cultivar in your locality, specially if you live in an area near white pines. Nurseries should also be able to provide you with the information.
This cultivar is best used for preserving, and other culinary recipes as it has a pretty tart flavor when eaten straight from the shrub. It’s also important to use gloves as this plant has many thorns in it.
Whinhams Industry Gooseberry
This is a pretty ancient variety. Whinhams industry gooseberry is an European dessert type that produces great sized red fruits in the mid-summer months.
While this cultivar may not care too much about the type of soil is being planted, it is not very disease resistant and it’s also very thorny (and when I say thorny, I mean thorny) it does well in both full sun and in partial shade, but as always, be careful in really hot temperatures.
If you are looking for size this may be the cultivar for you. Holding the RHS Award of Garden Merit, leveller gooseberry is an European variety that produces very large shiny yellow-green fruits in the mid-season.
This variety is very popular for conserving, cooking and making jams when unripe and has a good sweet taste when ripe. As it happens with many European varieties, it is not very resistant to American Powdery Mildew, but if placed in a good soil, it will provide a good amount of fruit in the harvesting season.
Black Velvet Gooseberry
When just the name sounds tasty you know you are in for a treat. Black Velvet is a hybrid from gooseberry and worcesterberry, this delicious and pretty new cultivar produces pretty small, sweet darkish red fruits in the mid-summer, they are usually compared to the sweetness of blueberries.
They do pretty well in partial shade, and can yield a good amount of fruit. This cultivar has a decent resistance to Mildew and it is somewhat thorny.
Jeanne is just like living with a doctor, you won’t have to worry too much about diseases. This cultivar is a Hybrid between American and European gooseberries. It has a very high resistance to Mildew and White Pine Blister Rust.
This cultivar provides slightly medium dark-red fruits in the mid-late season. It yields a high amount of fruit due to it’s great resistance to diseases and insects, and it’s better placed in a location with full sun.
In the end, we have Martlet Gooseberry, a pretty new Mildew Resistant variety that ripens in mid-summer. This dessert type cultivar provides slightly dark-red medium size fruits that are good for to eat straight from the shrub! If picked unripe they can also be used for culinary purposes.
I hope this article on the different types of gooseberries and their varieties was useful to you, I wish you a happy growing!