This time of year you can see the cardinals and robins hopping around my wild black currant (Ribes americanum), helping themselves to the black fruit. I have a corner of my backyard devoted to wild black currant, which is one of my favorite native shrubs. It grows about 3-4′ and is about as carefree as they come, seemingly unbothered even by this year’s drought.
Wild black currant does best in part shade, but is otherwise very adaptable. It bears tart, edible berries over a long period in the summer, which are very popular with the birds. The maple-like foliage is nice and in spring there are long racemes of chartreuse flowers, understated but attractive nonetheless.
I’ve planted a second type of currant more recently, clove currant (Ribes odoratum). This is their second summer since I planted them in the front yard. Clove currant prefers sun. This year one of the three bloomed and bore berries for the first time. The others are still coming along. In spring clove currant has yellow flowers with a powerful clove fragrance. I placed them so that passersby on the sidewalk would notice the scent.