The most striking feature of this shrub is its prickly berries. It is unclear what advantage this provides in comparison to berries without prickles. Other species of plants produce prickly fruits as well e.g., some Opuntia spp. (Prickly Pear Cacti) have prickly fruits that are offered for sale in grocery stores. In addition to its prickly berries, Prickly Gooseberry can be distinguished from other Ribes spp. (Gooseberries) by the inserted stamens of its flowers and leaves with indented bases (cordate). Other Gooseberries in Illinois have non-prickly berries, flowers with exerted stamens, and leaf bases that are truncate, rounded (obtuse), or less indented. Those Ribes spp. that are Currants have larger clusters of flowers/berries (5 or more). Prickly Gooseberry is more common in areas that are located to the north and east of Illinois.
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