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Ribes americanum (Wild Black Currant) Saxifragaceae

  • 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.

    Physical Characteristics

    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.

    Ecological Characteristics

    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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