American black currant

(Ribes americanum)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status

Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

American black currant

American black currant is an 40 to 60 tall, erect, perennial shrub that sometimes forms thickets.

The stems are erect or ascending, slender, and ridged. They do not have spines or bristles. Young stems are finely hairy with yellow glands. Older stems are gray and hairless.

The buds are brown, hairy, egg-shaped, to 3 16 long, with a blunt tip.

The leaves are alternate, stalked, 1 to 2 long, and 1 to 3 wide. They are broadly egg-shaped in outline with a flat or shallowly heart-shaped base. They are palmately lobed, with 3 or 5 pointed lobes, and palmately veined. The upper surface is dark green, hairless, with scattered yellow glands. The lower surface is paler green, hairy along the veins, with many yellow glands. The margins are deeply toothed or double-toothed.

The inflorescences are in elongated, unbranched, clusters (racemes) of 8 to 20 or more flowers. The racemes are 2 to 3 long and drooping, with a hairy central axis. There are 2 conspicuous bracts at the base of the raceme. The bracts are lance-shaped, hairy, and much longer than the flower stalks.

The flowers are yellowish-white, about long, and bell-shaped. There are 5 petal-like sepals fused together at the base into a short tube, with 5 lobes that spread widely and bend backward at the tip. They are sparsely hairy on the outside and have no yellow glands. There are 5 blunt-tipped petals that are shorter than the sepals and are pressed together forming a tube. There are usually 5, sometimes 4 stamens, that are shorter than the petals and do not protrude from the tube. The ovary is hairless and has no bristles, prickles, or yellow glands. The style is as long as or slightly longer than the stamens.

The fruit is a black, juicy berry. It is almost round, 5 16 to in diameter, hairless, and has no bristles or prickles.



40 to 60


Flower Color

Yellowish white


Similar Species

European black currant (Ribes nigrum) has flowers on stalks that are much longer than the minute, subtending bracts. The sepals are densely hairy on the outside. The sepals and ovary have scattered, yellow glands.

Northern black currant (Ribes hudsonianum) racemes are erect or ascending. The flowers are on stalks that are much longer than the minute, subtending bracts. The sepals are densely hairy on the outside.


Moist. Upland woods, floodplains.



Late April to early June


Pests and Diseases





Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.









Plantae (green algae and land plants)


Viridiplantae (green plants)


Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)


Embryophyta (land plants)


Tracheophyta (vascular plants)


Spermatophytina (seed plants)


Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)




Saxifragales (saxifrages, stonecrops, and allies)


Grossulariaceae (gooseberry)


Ribes (currants and gooseberries)






Subordinate Taxa




Coreosma americana

Coreosma florida

Ribes campanulatum

Ribes floridum

Ribes floridum var. grandiflorum

Ribes intermedium

Ribes nigrum var. pennsylvanicum

Ribes recurvatum


Common Names

American black currant

black currant

gooseberry currant

wild black currant












Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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Greg Watson

American black currant Photos
American black currant   American black currant


American black currant   American black currant


American black currant   American black currant


American black currant   American black currant


American black currant   American black currant





Ribes americanum (American Black Currant)
Allen Chartier

Ribes americanum (American Black Currant)



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Other Videos

Frank Cook on Black Currant - Ribes nigrum
Robin Harford


Uploaded on Jan 30, 2009 - Herbalist Frank Cook, the internationally renowned edible wild plant expert, explores the importance of Black Currant (Ribes nigrum) as food and medicine.

Art Gianfermo


Uploaded on Aug 2, 2011

The Black Currant is another in my series on he nutraceutical plants that can be used as both for food and medicine. Black currants are a perennial species of the Ribes berry native which is native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia.

The fruit has extraordinarily high vitamin C content (302% of the Daily Value per 100 g, table), good levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B5, and a broad range of other essential nutrients. The big deal is that phytochemicals (polyphenols/anthocyanins) are contained in the the fruit and have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments to have the potential to inhibit inflammation mechanisms suspected to be at the origin of heart disease, cancer, microbial infections or neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

Yes you heard that right to inhibit neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

Blackcurrant seed oil is also rich in many other nutrients, especially vitamin E and several unsaturated fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid.

Culinary uses mostly include the making of jams, jellies or preserves but also in beverages. In fact in the UK they make a blackcurrant cordial mixed with cider to make a drink called "Cider and Black". The addition of lager results in "Diesel" or "Snakebite and Black" available at pubs. Adding a small amount of blackcurrant juice to Guinness is preferred by some to heighten the taste of the popular stout.

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States but were banned in the early 1900s. That was a time when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust, were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry. Things have changed and they are making a comeback.



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Location: Wagon Wheel Trail, La Crescent, MN.

Solitary Sandpiper in flight

American black currant Sightings






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