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Small black berry #338915 - Ask Extension


Small black berry #338915

Asked July 03, 2016, 8:35 AM EDT

This plant grows all over my property. It has small black berries that grow mostly in pairs along the woody stem. Originally thought they were baneberry, bit the berries d upo no match. I squished a berry and touched it to my tongue, it has a sweet taste.

They also seem to grow next to our among my wild blackberries.

Shannon County Missouri

Expert Response

Were the berries green a few weeks ago? I think this is a gooseberry. The berries start out green and that is when people pick them to make pies. If not picked and left on the plant, they turn dark purple. The leaves look like gooseberry leaves, and the stem is light colored like a gooseberry stem.
Jennifer Schutter Replied July 05, 2016, 11:54 AM EDT
Gooseberries are sour when green, but that is when most people pick them. They turn sweet when left to ripen and turn purple. I picked a purple gooseberry from a gooseberry plant in the garden at my office the other day and it was sweet.
Jennifer Schutter Replied July 05, 2016, 11:57 AM EDT
Thank you for your reply I really appreciate it. Yes the Berries were green a few weeks ago now they are dark, Deep Purple almost black. Are they still edible once turned purple? How sure are you that these are actually gooseberry. I mean, obviously I don't want to poison my family. Thanks again
The Question Asker Replied July 05, 2016, 2:56 PM EDT
Do they have thorns? Gooseberry plants have thorns/stickers. I'm 99% sure it is a gooseberry. I've been around gooseberry plants since I was a small child growing up on my parents farm. We ate them wild out in the fields, woods and fence lines. I grow tame gooseberry plants now. The berries start out green, then lighten to a pale green sometimes with a yellowish tint then they start to turn purple and end up totally dark purple or almost black. You could take a sample to your county extension center or to the closest Missouri Department of Conservation office for identification and a second opinion.
Jennifer Schutter Replied July 05, 2016, 4:05 PM EDT
No ma'am you are the professional and your answer sounds good to me thank you very very much I am sure my family will enjoy some fresh Gooseberry pie!
The Question Asker Replied July 05, 2016, 4:12 PM EDT
To get the true gooseberry flavor, pick them in late May or early June next year when they are still green/light green. That's when everyone picks them to make pies. They are fine for pies right now, it's just that gooseberry is known for its' tartness and that's what people like about them and they pick them green. Gooseberries are actually considered ready when the size of a small marble and are green. There are only two other berry plants in Missouri with leaves that look similar, the current and jostaberry and both are edible. So, no worries about being poisoned. There is a plant producing purple berries right now that should not be eaten and that is the American Pokeweed. Never eat those berries. Google it to learn more.
Jennifer Schutter Replied July 05, 2016, 4:24 PM EDT

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