Ribes echinellum - (Coville) Rehd.
Miccosukee Gooseberry
Other Common Names: Miccosukee gooseberry
Synonym(s): Grossularia echinella Coville
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ribes echinellum (Coville) Rehd. (TSN 24464)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.159888
Element Code: PDGRO020G0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Currant Family
Image 12029

Public Domain

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Rosales Grossulariaceae Ribes
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ribes echinellum
Taxonomic Comments: Recent work using molecular phylogenetic approaches has confirmed the distinctness of this very rare shrub (Morgan & Soltis 1993, Senters & Soltis 2003, Shultheis & Donoghue. 2004).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14Sep2009
Global Status Last Changed: 30Jun1988
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Known from only two disjunct localities. There is one population in Jefferson County, Florida and two sites in McCormick County, South Carolina. Where found, the species grows relatively abundantly. Threats include lakeside development, as the Florida occurrences are privately owned, logging of surrounding hardwoods, competition from invasive non-native plants such as Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese climbing fern, and Chinese privet, and deer browsing.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (S1), South Carolina (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (18Jul1985)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Occurs in three locations: along the shores of Lake Miccosukee in Jefferson County, Florida, and along Stevens Creek and a site on the Sumter National Forest, Edgefield Ranger District in McCormick County, South Carolina.

Area of Occupancy: 3-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy was estimated to be approximately 12 square km based on the presence of Ribes echinellum in 3 separate grid cells, each of size 4 square km.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Two occurrences in close proximity are believed extant in Jefferson County, Florida. In the disjunct area of McCormick County, South Carolina, it is known from two sites, Steven's Creek Heritage Preserve and Sumter National Forest, Edgefield Ranger District.

Population Size Comments: Grows extremely densely with as many as 500 stems in a .04 ha circular plot (USFWS 2008). The population at the type locality in Florida was estimated to be approximately 5000 plants (Schultz and Hardin 1985 cited by USFWS 2008). As many as 9,870 clumps are present at the Steven's Creek, South Carolina site (Gaddy 2008). The Sumter National Forest, South Carolina site has approximately 270 ramets (USFWS 2008).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The threat of habitat destruction or alteration is greatest in Florida site since the lands are privately owned and have potential for lakeside development. Logging of the associated hardwoods and severe fire could pose additional threats to these occurrences. Logging occurred near part of the site with observed detrimental effects (U.S. Dept. of the Interior 1985). Invasive species including Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) are threats, especially at the Steven's Creek site (USFWS 2008). In addition, Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum) occurs at the Florida site (USFWS 2008). Deer browsing is also a threat, particularly at the Stevens Creek site (USFWS 2008). Unlike other gooseberries and currents, this species is not in demand for commercial purposes (U.S. Dept. of the Interior 1985).

Short-term Trend Comments: The Steven's Creek site may be declining (USFWS 2008). The Sumter National Forest and Florida sites appear to be stable (USFWS 2008).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Occurs in three locations: along the shores of Lake Miccosukee in Jefferson County, Florida, and along Stevens Creek and a site on the Sumter National Forest, Edgefield Ranger District in McCormick County, South Carolina.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL, SC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Jefferson (12065)
SC Edgefield (45037), McCormick (45065)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Stevens (03060107)+, Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A bushy shrub that reaches 1 m in height and often forms patches that are several meters in diameter. Leaves are small (1-2 cm long), closely spaced, and more-or-less 3-lobed. Stems are armed with spines. Flowers (late February into early April) are inconspicuous, greenish-white. Fruits are spiny green berries.
Technical Description: Petioles are pubescent, to 3 cm long; the leaf blade 1 to 2 cm long, sometimes reaching 3 cm, orbicular in outline, truncate to rounded at the base, 3 lobed, sparingly pubescent or nearly glabrous on both surfaces.

The peduncles are 5 to 12 mm long, pubescent and usually with gland- tipped hairs, pendulous one-flowered or occasionally two-flowered. The pedicels 1 to 6 mm long, densely pubescent and glandular, subtended by 2 small bracts. The flower 15 to 20 mm in length, green to greenish white. The ovary is densely covered with long glands; calyx tube green, pubescent, 3 to 4 mm long, calyx lobes 5, linear, pubescent, 4 to 6 mm long, reflexed; petals 2 to 3 mm long, inrolled and appearing tubular. The filaments are 9 to 12 mm long, scattered pilose, exserting the reddish-pink pilose anthers out from the petals. The pistil, with a shallowly divided style, is 10 to 15 mm long.

The fruit is a green berry, 2 to 3 cm in diameter (including spines), densely covered with gland-tipped spines up to 8 mm long (Coville 1924, Sinnott 1985).

Diagnostic Characteristics: Ribes echinellum displays the morphological features of lack of style pubesence, tubular petals, and greenish calyx which are found in species of a western group related to R. lobbii. This combination of features distinguish R. echinellum from other Eastern species (Sinnott 1985).
Ecology Comments:

Vegetative reproduction occurs commonly by rooting at the stem tips whenever they touch the ground (Jones 1986b). The species is also easily rooted from cuttings (McCartney 1986).

The production of seed does not appear to be a problem. Reproduction from seed has been observed. The best germination substrate is probably bare mineral soil (Jones 1986b, McCartney 1986). Seed germination tests under laboratory conditions with many different scarification and stratification treatments have been conducted with no success. Limited success was achieved by leaving the seed in the fruit and allowing the fruit to rot on a potting soil germination medium under greenhouse conditions. When fruit was partially buried in bare mineral soil in July at the South Carolina site, some seed germination was observed the following spring (Jones 1986a).

Coville (1924) postulated that birds with long bills (mockingbirds, catbirds, or thrushes) would be adapted to opening the berries to eat the seed. The daily range of these species would be limited, therefore the potential dispersal distance would be limited. Dissemination by these agents would by internal means.

The major limiting factor may be competition from native plants, other factors may include limiting soil water status and poorly drained soils (Jones 1986b). In Florida, at the type location the estimated numbers of individuals was 5000 over an area of 100 acres and 3000 to 5000 over five to ten acres in the eastern population segment (Schultz and Hardin 1985). In South Carolina, the density ranged from 13,000 to 161,000 stems/ha within the area where the species is best developed. Approximately 20 to 25 % of the plants were less than one-foot tall (Jones 1986a). The populations are stable and maintaining themselves (Milstead 1978 and Jones 1986b). The communities are steady-state to near steady-state with single tree canopy gaps.

Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Forest/Woodland
Habitat Comments: Ribes echinellum is associated with a deciduous, mixed hardwood forest with an overstory canopy dominated by species of oak and hickory (Quercus and Carya).

In Florida, Harper (1925) described the site of the type location as wooded bluff slopes with an unusual absence of evergreen species. Quercus shumardii, Q. michauxii, Liquidambar styraciflua, Tilia sp., Fraxinus americana, Acer barbatum, Ulmus rubra, and U. alata were listed as the most abundant tree species. R. echinellum was the most abundant shrub in association with Adelia ligustrina and Aesculus pavia.

Schultz and Hardin (1985) surveyed essentially the same area in 1985. According to their estimates, the dominant tree canopy was composed of Carya glabra, Fraxinus americana, Ulmus alata, Celtis laevigata, and Quercus virginiana. Acer barbatum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Quercus michauxii, and Tilia americana were listed as common subdominants. Ribes echinellum, Aesculus pavia, Aralia spinosa, and Rhus radicans were found to be abundant in the shrub layer.

The site was characterized (Schultz and Hardin 1985) as a westerly aspect, with the topographic position ranging from mid-slope to bottom-slope, and slope gradient ranging from 0-10% to 10-35%. Light conditions were filtered to shady with a mesic moisture status. Elevation ranged from 80 to 120 feet. Underlying rock is limestone.

Four additional segments of the Florida population are described by Schultz and Hardin (1985) one-half to one mile east of the original location. The site was characterized as flat relief approximately five feet above the level of the surrounding swamp. The soil moisture status was defined as mesic and apparently well drained at an elevation of 80 to 90 feet. Underlying rock is limestone.

Dominant trees were Fagus grandifolia, Magnolia grandiflora, and Acer barbatum. Associated tree species included Quercus michauxii, Q. nigra, Q. virginiana, Carya glabra, and Fraxinus americana. The shrub layer was composed of Ribes echinellum, Aralia spinosa, Aesculus pavia, Euonymus americanus, and Rhus radicans.

In South Carolina the forest community was originally described by Radford (1959) as mixed mesophytic. The major tree canopy species were listed as Carya cordiformis, Acer barbatum, Quercus prinus (probably Q. michauxii misidentified), Q. rubra, and Ulmus rubra. Jones (Jones and Dunn 1978, 1983, Jones 1986a) sampled the forest community at the Stevens Creek Natural Area where the Ribes echinellum was best developed. The major tree species were found to be Ulmus rubra, Fraxinus americana, Quercus alba, Carya glabra, Acer barbatum, Carya cordiformis, and Quercus michauxii (in order of decreasing importance). Species of Quercus and Carya accounted for over 50% of the composition of the tree size-class. Therefore, the community would be best defined as a mesic variant of the oak-hickory type.

The site where the vegetative survey was conducted is a lower slope with a northwest to northeast aspect and 28- to 40-degree slope. The soil pH of the A horizon ranged from 6.7 to 7.4 and the texture was a sandy loam. In the A horizon the level of exchangeable calcium was 1000+ ppm, magnesium 51+ ppm, potassium 50 to 105 ppm, and phosphorus 6 to 25 ppm. The soil less than 20 feet upslope from the area vegetatively sampled is a Wateree series which is a coarse-loamy, mixed, thermic, Typic Dystrochrepts (Jones 1986a). According to Griffin (1986), the high pH and calcium levels are likely due to the presence of marble. Rock outcrops of cataclastic granatoid gneiss with potassium feldspars and plagioclase are common along the bluff-site.

A disjunct segment one-half mile north on the west side of Stevens Creek was located by Jones in 1985. The forest canopy is dominated by Liquidambar styraciflua and Ostrya virginiana and was heavily disturbed by logging activity approximately 25 to 30 years ago. The understory is open and sparse. The site is characterized as a lower slope position, 10 to 20 % slope with an easterly aspect. The soil is a Tatum which is derived from fine-grained phyllite and is a clayey, mixed, thermic Typic Hapludults (Jones 1986a).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Prevent logging and alterations to hydrology (Chafin 2000). Control invasive exotic species such as Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) (Chafin 2000). Protect plants at Steven's Creek from deer herbivory by fencing a larger area (Gaddy 2008; USFWS 2008). Continue to monitor populations and research reproductive biology, fire effects, and genetics (USFWS 2008).
Restoration Potential: Restoration success would depend upon the degree of perturbation to the site. A heavy loss of the overstory canopy would make recovery nearly impossible due to increased competition by invading successional species. If Ribes echinellum were depleted but the structure of the stand was not affected, recovery could be achieved by planting of rooted cuttings.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Further land protection is needed in Florida but not in South Carolina. In general, habitat protection of an occurrence of Ribes echinellum would primarily include the area of actual presence. An area of secondary inclusion for habitat protection would be defined by the boundaries of the forest stand within which the species occurs. Priority should be given to areas previously defined as having high quality stand conditions. A buffer area should also be included to insure that perturbations within the periphery of the stand do not affect the compositional and structural attributes of the stand.
Management Requirements: Monitoring of the populations and completion of research would determine if active management is required to maintain Ribes echinellum. Control of Japanese honeysuckle, particularly at the South Carolina site, should receive high priority. Until such time that research results would recommend otherwise, firebreaks should be maintained.
Monitoring Requirements: A system of biological monitoring is needed. Since monitoring from 1992 to 2001 suggested the populations were stable, monitoring at 3-5 year intervals could be sufficient (USFWS 2008). Procedures would include detailed mapping of populations and noting any subsequent alterations in the distribution. Installation of permanent plots would be necessary to establish a baseline of population levels and monitor any fluctuations in density levels. Flowering and fruit production should also be included in the monitoring process. The permanent plots would also serve to establish a baseline of specific stand compositional and structural attributes and allow monitoring to insure maintenance of quality stand conditions. Reproductive biology and fire effects could also be studied (USFWS 2008).

Management Programs: Stevens Creek Natural Area South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources P.O. Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202 Contact: Dr. Douglas Rayner.

Jefferson County, Florida "Preserve Design" (no management program in effect) Florida Natural Areas Inventory 254 East Sixth Avenue Tallahassee, FL 32303 Contact:Dr. E. Dennis Hardin

Management Research Programs: Data has been collected at the state-protected South Carolina site on the stand structure and composition, density levels of Ribes echinellum, and preliminary investigations into seed germination under laboratory and field conditions.

Clemson University, Dept. of Forestry, Clemson SC 29631 Contact: Steven M. Jones, Program not currently active.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Mar2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cooper, S.T., & C. Sahley, rev. Maybury (1996), rev. Jones, S.M.(1987), rev. C. Nordman (2009), rev. A. Tomaino (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 20Feb1987
Management Information Edition Author: STEVEN M. JONES, rev. A. Tomaino (2009)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Feb1987
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): JONES, S.M.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Kartesz, J. T. 1991. Synonym names from 1991 checklist, as extracted by Larry Morse, TNC, June 1991.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Milstead, W.L. 1978. Status report on Ribes echinellum. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, GA. 19 pp.

  • Morgan, D.R., and D.E. Soltis. 1993. Phylogenetic relationships among members of Saxifragaceae sensu lato based on rbcL sequence data. Annals Missouri Botanical Garden 80:631-660.

  • Peterson, C.L., and C.C. Campbell. 2007. Seed collection and research on eight rare plants species of the Florida Panhandle region. USFWS grant agreement 401815G173.

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  • Senters, A., and D.E. Soltis. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships in Ribes (Grossulariaceae) inferred from ITS sequence data. Taxon 52:51-66.

  • Shultheis, L.M., and M.J. Donoghue. 2004. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of Ribes (Grossulariaceae), with an emphasis on gooseberries (subg. Grossularia). Systematic Botany 29:77-96.

  • Sinnott, Q.P. 1985. A revision of Ribes L. subg. Grossularia (Mill.) Pers. sect. Grossularia (Mill.) Nutt. (Grossulariaceae) in North America. Rhodora 87:189-286.

  • Slapcinsky, J.L., and D. Gordon. 2005. Ribes echinellum final monitoring report. The Nature Conservancy. 11 pp.

  • Stowe, J. 1999. Steven's Creek Heritage Preserve Management Plan. Heritage Trust Program, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. 16 pp.

  • Sumter National Forest. 2007. Monitoring data for Ribes echinellum (unpublished report).

  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2007. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database] National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, MD. [http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1450789]

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