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Currant, photo courtesy of David Cavagnaro
Currant, photo courtesy of David Cavagnaro

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Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-6, 15-17
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Full, Partial, Shade
Regular Water
Moderate

Ribes sp.


Deciduous, Edible fruit, Shrubs

These many-stemmed, thornless shrubs grow to 3–5 ft. high and wide, depending on vigor and variety. They have attractive lobed, toothed leaves to 3 in. wide that drop early in fall, sometimes turning bright red, orange, or yellow first. Drooping clusters of white or yellowish flowers bloom in early spring, and are followed in summer by fruit used for jellies, jams, preserves. For ornamental relatives,see Ribes.

Like other members of Ribes, currant may be host to white pine blister rust and is still banned in some areas where white pines grow; check with your Cooperative Extension Office or a local nursery for regulations in your area.

Black currants, derived from–R. nigrum or R. aureum (see descriptions under Ribes), have rich, pungent flavor and are good in jams and preserves. Since they are the most favored host of white pine blister rust, grow rust-immune hybrids such as –Consort–, –Crandall–, –Mina Smyriou–, and –Titania–. –Ben Sarek– has good-quality fruit on compact, mildew- and rust-resistant plants.

Red and white currants, derived from R. sativum, are less likely to be hosts to the rust. These tart fruits are used mainly for jelly. Red-fruited varieties include –Cherry–, –Jonkheer Van Tets–, –Red Lake–, and –Wilder–; white types include –Blanca– and –Primus–.

Generally self-fruitful. Do not grow where water or soil is high in sodium. Mulch well. Prune during dormant season. On red and white currants, cut stems older than 3 years to the ground; on black currants, remove stems older than 2 years. Older canes are often darker and peeling. Currant worm can defoliate plants; control with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

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