Ribes uva-crispa 'Captivator'
Common Name: gooseberry 
Type: Fruit
Family: Grossulariaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun. Plant in a location protected from strong winds and frost pockets. Plant bare root bushes in October or November. Needs regular summer and winter prunings to maximize fruit production.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ribes uva-crispa, commonly called gooseberry, is a deciduous, spiny shrub native to northern Africa and Europe. Mature plants can reach up to 5' tall with a similar spread and take on a rounded form with a scrambling habit. The leaves have three to five deep lobes. Loose clusters of small, nodding flowers with strongly recurved, pink petals emerge in spring but are not considered highly ornamental. The flowers are followed by round, 1" wide berries with small, bristly hairs on their skin and tart flesh. The berries are typically green but can be found in a variety of colors including yellow, pink, red, purple, and white. They are often picked when young but can also be left on the shrub to fully mature and develop a sweeter flavor.

The genus name Ribes is derived from the Arabic ribas, the name used for Rheum ribes (Syrian rhubarb), an unrelated, wild rhubarb species. European herbalists possibly connected the two due to the acidic flavor of the flowering stem of R. ribes, or the visually similar panicles of red fruits.

The specific epithet uva-crispa could mean "prickly grape", in reference to the bristly hairs on the fruit of this species. However, this is not fully supported by the literature.

'Captivator' is a vigorous, nearly spineless selection of gooseberry that features sweet, red-purple berries. Mature plants will reach around 5' tall and 6' wide with an upright, well-branched habit. Pale green flowers bloom in spring and are not showy.


In wet, humid conditions, anthracnose, powdery mildew and fungal leaf spots can be troublesome. Although white pine blister rust is not a problem in Missouri, this shrub is considered to be an alternate host for this disease and should not be planted in certain parts of the United States where the disease is prevalent (particularly in parts of the eastern United States). Contact your local Extension Service to verify if these plants can be grown in your area. Aphids, scale and bud mite are potential pests in some areas.

'Captivator' is resistant to powdery mildew.


Grow in a protected location in the vegetable garden or fruit garden.