Ribes americanum

American Black Currant

American Black Currant
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Joanne Kline

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Ribes, from the Arabic or Persian ribas, "acid-tasting", referring to the fruit
  • americanum, from the Latin, "of America"
  • Common Name, from color of the fruit
  • Other common names include Eastern Black Currant, Wild Black Currant

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Rosidae, the Roses
        • Order Rosales, the Roses
          • Family Grossulariaceae, the Gooseberries
            • Genus Ribes, Currants and Gooseberries
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 24451
  • Also known as Ribes floridum

Description:

  • A ¼, ½, ¾, º, é
  • Leaves
  • Stem
  • Roots
  • Flowers
    • Sepals
    • Petals
    • Stamens
    • Pistils
    • Ovary superior (within blossom) inferior (below flower)
  • Fruit
  • Seed
  • A native, many branched, deciduous shrub, 3½'-5' tall.
  • Leaves three to five lobed, 1¼"-3¼" wide, gland-dotted beneath.
  • Branches erect, without spines.
  • Flowers in drooping racemes of five to ten blossoms.
  • Fruit round blue black berry, smooth with many seeds; low in lipids and high in sugars.

Identification:

  • Identifiable as
  • Distinguished from
  • Field Marks

Distribution:

  • Alaska to Newfoundland,
  • East of the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to Nova Scotia, south to Delaware, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

Habitat:

  • Swamps, moist woods and canyons, along roadsides, and on plains, foothills, and mountains.
  • Clay, sandy, and rocky soils.
  • Somewhat shade tolerant, often growing in moist forests. In Minnesota, very dense Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) or White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) overstories suppress currants.

Fire:

  • Regeneration is probably favored by fire because scarification of soil-stored seed generally enhances germination.
  • Fire probably severely damages or kills individual plants.

Associates:

  • Trees:
  • Shrubs:
  • Herbs:
  • Ground Covers:
  • Mammals: Fruit a valuable food source for chipmunks, ground squirrels, and other animals.
  • Birds: Eaten by songbirds.

History:

Uses:

  • Fruit used for making jam, jelly and pie.

Reproduction:

  • Sexually by seed
  • Flowers
  • Assexually by
  • Reproduces mainly by seed; the ability to sprout from the root crown has not been documented.
  • Fruiting begins after 3 years. Many seeds fall beneath the parent plant; they are also dispersed by birds and mammals.
  • Mineral soil and scarification generally enhance germination.
  • Fallen seed may remain viable in the soil and duff for many years. Drying seed may induce dormancy.

Propagation:

  • By seed, following cold stratification. A germination rate of 76% has been obtained by stratifying seed at 28º and 36º F. for 90-120 days. Seeds were stratified and germinated in sand moistened with nutrient solution.

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun
    • Soil
    • Water
    • Spacing
    • Fertilization
  • Size 12"-18"W x 12"-18"H
  • Growth rate
  • Good for
  • Cultivars include
    • variety 'Alba', with
  • Cultivars and species available by mail order from specialty suppliers or at local nurseries
  • Cultivated as an ornamental shrub.
  • Alternate host for White Pine Blister Rust (Cronartium ribicola) which infests five needle pines. Because of their association with the rust, currants have been the targets of various eradication efforts.

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Last updated on 31 August, 2004