Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Gooseberries are mixed up fruit. Not that gooseberries think of course, but evolution and the hand of breeders have still left them mixed up. Soft fruit is all about attracting birds and animals to eat the ripe fruit to disperse the seeds, but gooseberries don't seem to get this. They produce succulent, delicious fruit, in our case purple dessert berries. You watch them slowly swelling and eventually ripening ready to pick but the bush has other ideas. It defends the fruit from all-comers with dagger-like thorns hidden under the leaves to assail you as you reach for that juicy berry. They scratch and stab you, they tear at your clothes and leave chunks in you to remind you later that you stole those berries.

Is it worth this attack to get at the fruit? Oh yes. They are well defended but the assault is well worth it. So maybe the gooseberries are mixed up, but they are delicious too.

1 comment:

Harry Wood said...

They've evolved a strange seed dispersal strategy. Maybe their niche is to attract birds but not mammals. They're spikey, but gooseberries are also too sour to eat without sugar. Over millions of years they've evolved to make good pies and jam :-)