Ribes americanum, or the Wild Black Currant, is a flowering shrub that is native to most of North America, including Lake County. The fruits produced by the plant are edible and can be used in a variety of sweet treats.
Leaf: The leaves of the Wild Black Currant are simple, alternate, and palmate, and usually have three lobes with coarse teeth.
Flower: The flowers of the plant are yellow-green and have a slight bell shape. They are clustered together in a drooping inflorescence. The fruit that forms is a round dark purple berry.
Shape: The Wild Black Currant shrub can grow up to 7 feet tall.
The Wild Black Currant is naturally distributed across about half of the US and Canada, typically in partly shady, low-lying moist woodlands. The plant is endangered in Maryland but is considered an invasive weed in Michigan.
Wild Black Currant Shrub Distribution
Relationships with Other Species
Non-human: Honeybees and bumblebees pollinate the flowers. The leaves are food for the caterpillars of the Green Comma Butterfly ( Polygonia faunas) and the larvae of the Currant Fruit Fly ( Euphantra canadensis), and a large variety of woodland creatures, including birds, squirrels, foxes, and deer, enjoy the currant itself.
Humans: The black currant fruit has been used for human consumption for centuries. Native Americans used them for their curative properties, and both Native Americans and newly-settled Europeans used the currants to make jams and jellies, and they could be dried to make a raisin-like snack.
Other Interesting Facts
The black currant fruit is a very nutritious berry, high in Vitamins A and C, and in potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.
- R. americanum is in the gooseberry family, and is closely related to gooseberries and several other species of currants.
- The Ribes genus lends its name to Ribena, a black currant concentrated drink that is wildly popular outside of the United States.
Page drafted by Adaobi Okoli
Wild Black Currant
( Ribes americanum)
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ES 203: SPRING FLORA OF THE GREAT LAKES
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