Images: ©Jouko Lehmuskallio

Black Currant

Ribes nigrum

  • Name also: European Blackcurrant (USA)
  • Family: Gooseberry Family – Grossulariaceae
  • Growing form and height: Shrub. 1–1.5 m (3–5 ft.).
  • Flower: Inconspicuous, regular (actinomorphic), approx. 8 mm (0.3 in.) across, reddish- or brownish green. Calyx five-lobed, wheel-shaped, hairy, with yellow glands, and longer than the petals. Stamens 5. Carpels 2, fused. Inflorescence a slender, drooping raceme.
  • Leaves: Alternate. With fairly long stalks, strong-scented. Blade with palmate venation, 3–5-lobed, with cordate base, toothed margins, hairless upper surface, and hairy underside covered with yellowish glands.
  • Buds: Egg-shaped–round, rather big, greenish. In short shoots buds in bunches.
  • Fruit: A black, fleshy berry.
  • Habitat: Mixed wooded swamps, streamside thickets, riverbanks, seaside thickets and scrub. Sometimes an escape.
  • Flowering time: May–June.

The genus Ribes comprises some 150 species native in the Northern hemisphere or in the mountains of South America. In general they are monoecious shrubs, with only a few exceptions.

The black currant is native in Finland. Originally it was a species of flooded land which is adapted to varying, sometimes quite wet conditions. When not in fruit, the black currant is best distinguished from the red currants by the strong smell of its leaves. Several cultivars which produce more berries than the native forms are in cultivation. Besides the berries also the leaves are used, e.g. for making tea, as medicine, or as seasoning.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
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