Grossulariaceae DC.

This family is accepted.


Weigend, M. (2009). Neotropical Grossulariaceae.


Always shrubs, sometimes lianescent (only South America) and very rarely cushion-forming (only Peru), bark often exfoliating . Plants usually glandular and/or pubescent , glands various, yellow and peltate , or brownish and subspherical, or long-stalked and clear. Leaves alternate throughout, simple , mostly widely ovate with 3 lobes and central lobe largest, rarely 5-7- lobed margin or entire , lobes lobulate and serrate , basa cuneate to deeply cordate ; stipulate with brownish, membranacous stipules on both sides of the petiole at base, these sometimes absent on leaves on old (flowering) branches. Inflorescences terminal , racemose, sometimes reduced to 1-2 flowers; inflorescence bracteose, pairs of bracteoles usually present on pedicels. Flowers hermaphrodite or unisexual, plants hermaphrodite or dioecious , (4-)5- merous , actinomorphic ; hypanthium (sepals + filaments + petals) always present, short or very long, calyx lobes well developed, mostly larger than petals and conspicuously coloured (yellow, red, white, orange, pink, brownish-green), entire , usually oblong - acuminate ; petals small, ovate or flabellate, coloured like petals or (more rarely) contrasting; male flowers with 5 antesepalous stamens, filaments usually short and broad, ovary slightly smaller than in female flowers, with abortive ovules; female flowers with 5 smaller stamens, these superficially fully developed but with undifferentiated archespor, ovary syncarpous, hypogynous, of 2 carpels, unilocular, crowned by 2 stylodia, sometimes on very short style , with stigmatic surfaces. Nectary disc always present and clothing the entire inside of  receptacle . Fruit a yellow, red, white, orange or black berry , often covered with various trichomes, glands , sometimes spines, sometimes glabrous , crowned with persistent flower remnants, calyx not accrescent , few- to many-seeded.

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • Grossulariaceae are now restricted to the genus Ribes L. and is considered as sister to herbaceous saxifrages (Saxifragaceae s.str.).
  • It is readily differentiated from the former on the basis of its consistently shrubby habit and berry-fruits (vs. herbaceous with dry fruits).
Number of genera
  • Only Ribes L.
  • All species are native, and many species are very narrowly endemic.
  • Ribesrubrum L. (red currant), R. nigrum L. (black currant) and various cultivars of subg. Grossularia Mill. (gooseberries) are occasionally cultivated in temperate South America and may be present as species.
General notes
  • Ribes is important for browsing by Andean animals; birds avidly devour its fruit and, due to its dense branching, it provides excellent nesting sites for birds.
  • The fruits of South American species are apparently all edible, but usually insipid.
  • Ribes cucullatum Hook. & Arn. reaches elevations of >4,700 m in the Cordillera Blanca and is one of the highest-growing woody plants in this area.
  • Many species are very narrowly endemic, some only known from the type collection.
  • Due to deforestation and overgrazing some species are on the brink of extinction (e.g., R. lehmannii Jancz. in Ecuador, R. contumazensis Weigend and R. ovalifolium Jancz. in Peru).
  • Some general comments on Ribes in tropical America: all species South of Costa Rica (to Patagonia) are dioecious.
  • Fruits are the characteristic inferior berries (gooseberries, red currants) with the nearly complete, albeit completely dry, flower at the apex.
  • Individual seeds are covered with a gelatinous sarcotesta.
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Grossulariacease comprise 1 genus and <200 species. It is a temperate to Mediterranean group and tropical representatives are restricted to montane and alpine habitats.
  • A large proportion of the species is distributed over the Northern Hemisphere with centres of diversity in E Asia and W North America including N Mexico.
  • Only three species are present on the high mountains of tropical Central America.
  • In South America only two, apparently unrelated, dioecious clades are present: sect. Parilla with ca. 10 spp. in temperate South America and sect. Andina with >30 spp. from the Andes of Argentina to Costa Rica.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Shrubs with often 3-lobed, usually pubescent and/or glandular leaves, sometimes aromatic.
  • Flowers in racemes, small, hypanthium usually present.
  • Inferior ovary with 2 carpels, 2 stylodia present.
  • Fruit a berry crowned with persistentflower remnants.
  • Seeds with gelatinous exotesta and dense, brown/black endotesta.
Key differences from similar families
  • Ribes cannot be confused.
Important literature

Berger, A. (1924). A taxonomic review of currants and gooseberries. New York Agric. Exp. Sta. Techn. Bull. 109: 3-118.

Catling, P.M., Dumouchel, L., & Brownell, V.R. (1998). Pollination of the Miccosukee Gooseberry (Ribes echinellum). Castanea 63: 402-407.

Engler, A. (1890). Saxifragaceae. In: Engler, A., Prantl, K. (eds) Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien III: 42-93. Leipzig: Engelmann.

Janczewski, E. (1907). Monographie de Groseillier. Mém. Soc. Phys. Genève 35/13: 199-517.

Rapoport, E.H., Ladio, A.H., Sanz, E.H. (1999). Plantas comestibles de la Patagonia andina. Bariloche: Imaginaria.

Soltis, D.E., Kuzoff, R.K., Mort, M.E., Zanis, M., Fishbein, M., Hufford, L., Koontz, J., & Arroyo, M.K. (2001). Elucidating deep-level phylogenetic relationships in Saxifragaceae using sequences for six chloroplastic and nuclear DNA regions. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 88: 669-693. Weigend, M. (2002). Observations on the Biogeography of the Amotape-Huancabamba Zone in Northern Peru.   In: K. Young, C. Ulloa U., J. L. Luteyn & S. Knapp (eds.), Plant Evolution and Endemism in Andean South America. Botanical Review 68: 38-54.

Weigend, M. (2003). Grossulariaceae. In: N. Smith, S.A. Mori, A. Henderson, D.W. Stevenson S.V. & Heald (eds.), Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.: 174-176.

Weigend, M. (2004). Additional Observations on the Biogeography of the Amotape-Huancabamba Zone in Northern Peru - Defining the South-Eastern limits. Revista Peruana de Biologia 11(2): 127-134.

Weigend, M. (2006). Grossulariaceae. In: Kubitzki, K.: The Families and Genera of the Vascular Plants IX: 168-176.

Weigend, M. & Binder, M. (2001). Ribes viscosum Ruiz & Pavon (Grossulariaceae), una especie ecológicamente importante de los Andes del Perú y su sinonimia. Arnaldoa 8(1): 39-44. Weigend, M. & Binder, M. (2001). A revision of the genus Ribes (Grossulariaceae) in Bolivia. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik und Pflanzengeographie 123: 111-134.

Weigend, M. & Binder, M. (2002). Three new species of Ribes (Grossulariaceae) from Central and South America. Systematic Botany 26: 727-737.

Weigend, M., & Rodriguez-R., E. F. (2006). Ribes amazonica spec. nov., la primera Ribes (Grossulariaceae) Peruana con inflorescencias erguidas. Arnaldoa 12(1-2): 42-47. Weigend, M., Cano E., A. & Rodriguez-R., E. F. (2005). New species and new records of the flora of the Amotape-Huancabamba Zone: Endemics and biogeographic limits. In: Weigend, M., E. Rodriguez R. & C. Arana (eds.), Bosques relictos del NO de Perú y SO de Ecuador. Revista Peruana de Biologia 12(2): 249-274.Weigend, M., Motley, T. & Mohr, O. (2002). Phylogeny and classification in the genus Ribes (Grossulariaceae) based on 5S-NTS sequences and morphological and anatomical data. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik und Pflanzengeographie 124: 163-182.

Weigend, M., N. Dostert & E. F. Rodríguez-R. (2007). 9 Bosques relictos de los Andes peruanos: Perspectivas económicas. Pp. 130-145 in Moraes R., M., B. Øllgaard, L. P. Kvist, F. Borchsenius & H. Balslev (eds.) Botánica Económica de los Andes Centrales. Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Plural Editores, La Paz.

Grossulariaceae DC. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Fl. Franc. [de Candolle & Lamarck], ed. 3. ed. 3, 4(2): 405. 1805 [17 Sep 1805] (as "Grossulariae") (1805)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Neotropikey

    Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.