Grossulariaceae: Gooseberry Family — Gooseberries
The Gooseberry family contains a single genus Ribes which includes both currants and gooseberries. These two groups can be distinguished by whether or not the stems have the (prominent and extremely sharp) nodal spines. Gooseberries have them, currants do not. In addition, stems of certain gooseberries can be extremely bristly between the nodes; an important but not always reliable diagnostic feature.
Gooseberries can be tricky plants to identify. The books include detailed descriptions of particular differentiating features but experience in the field suggests that not all plants exhibit all of the features that they are supposed to possess. It appears that the most reliable distinguishing characteristics are the length of the petals relative to the stamens and the color of the anthers, but other factors will often need to be taken into consideration. The fruits are edible and generally tasty but often prickly and so need to be eaten with care.
Note: when reference is made to the relative length of stamens and petals, both are measured from their base, so a stamen 1.5 × the length of the petals will be exserted half the length of the petals.