This is a distinct species, ribes divericatum, which forms a large bush, with vicious spines. The fruit is therefore difficult to pick and is the size of a large blackcurrant, but the flavour is more mellow. It is resistant to American Gooseberry Mildew, and Big Bud Mite. Because the plant is difficult to handle with all its thorns, the thornless Jostaberry is a better choice of an intermediate berry type between a Blackcurrant and a Gooseberry. From the photo, you can see that the fruit looks rather like a Gooseberry while it is still green.
It can grow into a very large plant and really requires about 2 m x 2 m x 2 m space for a fully grown specimen.
Pests and diseases. As it suffers from Gooseberry Sawfly caterpillar attack, spray at the first sign of attack with a suitable pesticide. Net against bird attack.
Pruning. Is best carried out after fruiting. Cut out weak and tangled branches to try to form a more open bush and thus aid fruit picking. In the past, I have been reduced to picking the fruits while wearing gloves, to prevent my fingers being torn to shreds by the spines. It makes an excellent anti-intruder hedge!
Propagation of the Worcesterberry is easy. Just take a cutting about 45 cm long and bury half the length in a good, free draining compost. Place the cutting in a cool position and keep moist. It should be rooted in three months, and then it can be placed in its final position.
Identification of the Worcesterberry is quite easy. The fruit is duller than that of the Blackcurrant, and has a particularly long remnant of the flower petals still attached at picking stage. It also has those vicious spines. In my experience, Blackcurrant berries, Worcesterberries and Jostaberries are all very similar in size.
The fruit is ripe when it goes almost black. The easiest way to pick the fruit is to lift the tip of the branch up high, allowing the Worcesterberries to hang down, when they can be easily seen and picked off.
Best used fresh for fruit pies and crumbles, or cooked for jellies, jams and ice creams.
Also easily frozen for long term storage.
WORCESTERBERRY (ribes divericatum)
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