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Not “Jost” a Berry

Sydney Jordan Brown
Latest posts by Sydney Jordan Brown (see all)


If you want more bang for your berry bush but have limited space, this plant offers thrice the berries in one space!  Ribes x nidigrolaria, known as jostaberry, (pronounced yostaberry) has a name that combines the German for blackcurrant, Johannisbeereand, “Jo”, and gooseberry, Stachelbeere, “Sta”. This hybrid resulted from a unique crossing of three species: the blackcurrant (Ribernigrum), the North American coastal black gooseberry (Ribes divaricatum) and the European gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa).  And what a wonderful berry it is!

Although a desire for gooseberry-like fruit on thornless plants started in the 1800’s, it was a long time coming to fruition.  Its first crossing in 1880 by William Culverwell (Yorkshire, England), “Ribes x culverwellii” was nearly sterile (unable to reproduce).  But of course, our heroine’s hybrid story didn’t end there. In the 1920s, a Berlin breeding program headed by Paul Lorenz resulted in about 1,000 different hybrids.  Another crossing resulted in 15,000 hybrids, from which three seedlings were selected for disease resistance, vigor, and the fertility lacking in the first plants.  In 1977, plant breeder Dr Rudolph Bauer, (Cologne, France), introduced the first official jostaberry cultivar to the public, named “Josta.”  Two more – “Jostine” and “Jogranda” – were introduced, and eventually led to the number of thornless varieties available today. The “Orus” line includes several rather prickly types, which were developed at the USDA Agricultural Research Service unit in Corvallis.

Although Jostaberry, like other currant species, is still an intermediate host for white pine blister disease, it is not banned in Oregon. However, it is banned in some US states: DE, ME, NC, NH, NJ, WV, MT, OH, RI & MA. It is restricted in MI and NH.  So here in Oregon, we get to enjoy an amazing thornless berry-plant with incredibly delicious and nutritious fruits.

Jostaberry plants are sold both bare root and potted.  They can be planted directly in the soil or put in large pots.  So even with limited space, you can still savor these super berries.  This robust, disease-resistant bush is hardy to zone 3 with good heat tolerance.  Plant in well-drained soil amended generously with compost in a sunny spot that gets some afternoon shade.  Mulch in summer and prune in winter, shortening branch tips to maintain size and remove drooping, broken or old wood. This will encourage fewer but larger berries and new replacement shoots.

Early in spring, branches sport large, bright green serrated-edge leaves with irregular lobes. Flowering in March-April is followed by clusters of green berries hanging firmly on their stems.  Ripening in July, they turn red, then satiny purplish-black in a black currant cross, or redder, in red currant crosses (which are also available).

Jostaberries are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds like their parent plants.  Jostaberries taste both tangy like gooseberries and sweet like black currants and grapes.  They’re delicious fresh, and very versatile in recipes.  Use them in fruit salads, muffins, pies and tarts. Juice them, make jams, jellies or preserves, or freeze them for later.

Since Jostaberry growth habits render commercial and mechanical harvesting impossible, you’ll have to grow your own berries to get them.  So, if you “jost” have to have this plant, save space in your garden plot or large favorite pot.


The National Gardening Association

Growing and Caring for Jostaberry –

Italian Berry

Jostaberry, the Triple Hybrid of Currant and Gooseberry 


Jostaberries: Information and Facts

Plant Sources:

One Green World

They have both black and red varieties as well Orus 8 (a hybrid of black currant and gooseberry with less thorns)

Raintree Nursery

Has several varieties including giant jostaberry



“Jos-to-have” Jostaberry Crisp

Oil and line the bottom of a 9” square pan with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375°F.


Crumble mix:

2 ½ cups oat flour (or whole wheat)

1 cup regular rolled oats

¼ cup coconut sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup olive oil

Mix dry ingredients until blended.  Drizzle in the oil, then mix until all ingredients are coated and coarsely crumbly.

Press about 1/3 of the crumble mixture into bottom of prepared 9” square pan.



3 cups Jostaberries, stem and blossom tips removed

2 tablespoons oat flour

1/3 cup coconut sugar (or organic sugar)

1/8 teaspoon salt

zest and juice from one lemon or lime

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg


Mix all ingredients, then pour them over the crumble mix in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle over remaining crumble mix, then press down gently atop the filling.

Bake in preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden and the filling is bubbling around edges.

Remove from oven.  Let cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold with fresh whipped cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Serves about 8.