Sierra gooseberry (Ribes roezlii) fruit is edible, though spiny! May 18, 2015. Photo: K. McCutcheon.
The Grossulariaceae family (currants and gooseberries) has only one genus: Ribes. There are several species of Ribes that grow along the Truckee River. Most are currants, with edible berries and no thorns. Although the leaves of all of the Ribes species look somewhat similar, Ribes roezlii, the Sierra gooseberry, is easy to tell apart from the others by the sharp thorns on its branches.
The fruit of the Sierra gooseberry are edible but well protected, enclosed in a ball of spines. The spines are actually soft to the touch: carefully peel back the spiny layer, and you will enjoy a tasty (and messy) treat.
Graf, M. (1999). Plants of the Tahoe Basin. Berkeley, CA: California Native Plant Society Press.
USDA. (2015). Ribes roezlii. USDA Plants Database. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=RIRO. Accessed May 23, 2015.
Vizgirdas, R. S., & Rey-Visgirdas, E. M. (2006). Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press.