American Black Currant


(Ribes americanum)

ribes americanum fruit
Salicyna, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ribes americanum leaves
jillllybean, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ribes americanum flowers
Salicyna, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

American black currant is and upright fruiting shrub native to Moist woods, floodplains, and wet sites of North America. It belongs to the gooseberry family which is now Grossulariaceae due to DNA findings.

Pale brown twigs with golden coloured glands hold its long hairy leaf stalks. Older stems are ridged from leaf scars and mature bark is smooth, reddish brown, and without thorns. Leaves are grape-like with prominent veins, toothed margins, and orange resinous glands underneath.

Druping Clusteds of Showy yellow-green flowers can be seen in early spring. Many types of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths visit the flowers for nectar. Edible dark purple to black berries follow and hang in chained clusters of 6 to 15 in mid summer. Numerous seeds are found within them. Many birds and wildlife eat the fruit and it can be eaten by humans as well. The berries can be prepared fresh, dried, as jams or jellies, but are not as palatable as other currants and gooseberries. A tea from the roots was used by native Americans to treat kidneys and remedy intestinal worms.

American black currant is the alternate host for white pine blister rust (along with other species of Ribes). Consequently, the shrub has been eradicated from part of it's range in order to protect white pine trees (important for the lumber industry) from the disease.


Agroforestry & Woodlot Extension Society. (n.d.). Wild black currant. Retrieved from

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. (2016). Wild Black Currant. Retrieved from

The Morton Arboretum. (n.d.). American black currant. Retrieved from

MDC. (n.d.) American Black Currant. Retrieved from