Garden Alphabet: Currant (Ribes)

During our last trip to Ohio, I was surprised to see so many wild currant bushes in the fence rows, parks and yards. I don’t remember currants from my childhood at all and I am not sure how I missed their existence, as we spent many long days wandering about the wood lots and farms of my small town. I saw many varieties of currents on this trip. This is an orange variety, but I also saw red, purple and almost blue varieties, too.

Garden Alphabet: Currant (Ribes) | A Gardener's Notebook with Douglas E. Welch


Ribes /ˈrbz/ is a genus of about 150 species of flowering plants native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is usually treated as the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae. Seven subgenera are recognized.

Sometimes Ribes is instead included in the family Saxifragaceae. A few taxonomists place the gooseberry species in a separate genus of Grossularia.

The genus Ribes includes the edible currants (blackcurrantredcurrantwhitecurrant), gooseberry, and several hybrid varieties. It should not be confused with the dried currant used in cakes and puddings, which is a cultivar of small grape (Zante currant). It gives its name to the popular blackcurrant cordial Ribena.

The genus also includes the group of ornamental plants collectively known as the flowering currants, for instance R. sanguineum.

There are restrictions on growing some Ribes species in some U.S. states, as they are a host for White Pine Blister Rust.” —

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