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Golden Currant Ribes aureum


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Golden Currant
credit: Stan Shebs/CCSA

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Family: Grossulariaceae, Currant view all from this family

Description Ribes aureum Pursh (syn. R. odoratum H.Wendl.; Buffalo Currant; Clove Currant; Golden Currant; Missouri Currant), a small to medium-sized deciduous shrubs 2 to 3 meters tall, is native to Canada, most of the United States (except the southeast) and northern Mexico.

It blooms in spring with racemes of conspicuous golden yellow flowers, often with a pronounced fragrance similar to that of cloves or vanilla. Flowers may also be shades of cream to reddish, and are borne in clusters of up to 15. Leaves are green, shaped similarly to gooseberry leaves, turning red in autumn. The shrub produces berries about 1 centimeter in diameter from an early age. Ripe fruits, amber yellow to black in color, are edible. The flowers are also edible.

R. aureum is widely cultivated in average and cold temperate regions, such as California, as an ornamental plant or, more rarely, for fruits. Several named cultivars exist. Although flowers are hermaphrodite, the yield is greatly benefited by cross-pollination. Unlike many other species of currant, R. aureum is remarkably drought-tolerant.

This currant is susceptible to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), a fungus which attacks and kills pines, so it is sometimes eradicated from forested areas where the fungus is active to prevent its spread.

Habitat Mountains, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Grasslands & prairies, Fields.

Range California, Northwest, Great Lakes, Southeast, Eastern Canada, Texas, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Plains, Western Canada, New England, Rocky Mountains.

Comments The typical species is a very adaptable plant, tolerating standing water to drought. R. odoratum (a Great Plains/Midwest species) has been included in R. aureum. This a host to white pine blister rust.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial shade.

Flower April - July

Native Distribution Saskatchewan to New Mexico, w. to n.c. Washington & California

Site Preference Moist to drier hillsides & river valleys

Soil Preference Moist to drier soils.

Wildlife Value Flowers provide nectar to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Birds, bears and rodents eat the fruit.