Miccosukee Gooseberry

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Miccosukee Gooseberry

Ribes echinellum

ListedJuly 18, 1985
FamilySaxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
DescriptionShrub with spiny stems, greenish-white flowers, and spiny berries.
HabitatSandy lakeshores.
ThreatsTrampling, competition from introduced plants.
RangeFlorida, South Carolina


Miccosukee gooseberry (Ribes echinellum ) is a shrub that reaches a height of 3.3 ft (1 m), often growing in thick stands several meters across. The plant has spiny stems and three-lobed leaves that are about 0.8 in (2 cm) in length. The flowers are white with a greenish tint. The fruit is a spiny berry that measures up to 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Germination occurs in late spring, leafing in October, budding in February, fruiting from April to July, and fruit dispersal from June to August.


This species occurs at lakeside locations in sandy soils with light to moderate filtered shade. It is associated with a deciduous, mixed hardwood forest with an overstory canopy dominated by oak and hickory.


For more than 30 years this gooseberry was known only from Florida's Lake Miccosukee (Jefferson County) population. In 1957 a second population was found 192 mi (309 km) to the northeast in McCormick County, South Carolina. This considerably expands the species' probable historic range. The Sumter National Forest area of South Carolina where the plant was found represents one of the most unusual floristic assemblages in the two Carolinas.

In 1984 an additional segment of the Florida population was discovered along the shores of Lake Miccosukee, and a third population was found on private land in Gadsden County. These new discoveries and the previously known populations in Florida and South Carolina represent the total species population. In 1986 the Florida population was estimated at 5,000 individuals over an area of 100 acres (40.5 hectares). The South Carolina population was better developed, with a plant density of 13,000-160,000 individuals.


The site of the South Carolina population is managed as a nature preserve. Although this site is protected, a higher number of visitors to this area increases the risk of trampling and disturbance. This population is also threatened by competition from an introduced vine, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ). Another limiting factor may include poorly drained soils.

The species' hold on survival is more tenuous in Florida. There, populations grow on privately owned lands that are potential lakeside development lots. Logging adjacent to the Florida site has also disturbed the habitat.

Conservation and Recovery

Research is needed to determine the management needs of the habitat and to examine the commercial potential of Miccosukee gooseberry. Other species of gooseberries and currants are cultivated for their edible fruits or for their ornamental beauty. This gooseberry may well be suited to similar purposes, providing a further impetus for its protection.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
(404) 679-4000


Milstead, W. L. 1978. "Status Report on Ribes echinellum. " U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta.

Radford, A. E. 1959. "A Relict Plant Community in South Carolina." Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 75: 35-43.