Currant Events in the Garden

The Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) begins to bloom just as Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum) is finishing up. Right now the Wild Currants are just loaded with dangling yellow flowers – more of a soft greenish yellow, as opposed to the bright yellow of Clove Currant. As with the Clove Currant, our Wild Currant plants seem to have more flowers than usual this spring.

DSC_0732I used to call these flowers chartreuse, but really they’re much closer to yellow, don’t you think?

Anyway, people who want to garden for wildlife (and who live where there is no prohibition on planting Currants and Gooseberries) should consider the Wild Currant. It offers early forage for both honeybees and native bees.

DSC_0751Birds like the purple berries. During the summer I enjoy watching Robins and Northern Cardinals hopping around the Wild Currant patch. The fruit ripens over a long period and is edible, but very tart.

Wild Currant is arguably the main understory plant in our Thicket Corner. It makes a nice patch that provides good cover for birds, but is generally about 3′-4′ tall. This shrub likes part shade and moist soil best, but I’ve found it to be pretty adaptable.

DSC_0737The leaves are shaped a bit like Maples and are a pleasant dark green. They have decent but not spectacular fall color.

Wild Currant will spread if you let it, but it’s not hard to control. The arching stems will touch the ground and then take root, plus the birds will poop the seeds around your garden.

DSC_0728This plant’s native range covers much of the northeast and midwest, extending as far as Wyoming.

It’s a hard plant to find, though. I got mine from Shooting Star Nursery in Kentucky, but they no longer do  mail order. Do you have Wild Currant in your garden?

31 Comments on “Currant Events in the Garden

  1. We do have some blackberry & rasberry bushes creeping across the fence from our neighbours … They have similar leaves to your wild currant bush but not the pretty yellow flowers. I noticed the little birds around here love them ……& I love any shrub that brings birds.

  2. I only have a flowering currant which produces tiny sour currants – I suppose the birds must like them though as they all disappear very quickly. The levaes look just like your plant’s leaves, butvthe flowers are pinky red. (Ribes sanguineun) Are currants invasive then in the US? I can’t imagine a currant and gooseberry prohibition here!

  3. Wild currant grow along the river banks here, Jason. One can find it everywhere, not big bushes but a lot of them. Especially close to abandoned plots, I think the cultural currants got wild during some decades. I suppose these berries are tastier than the garden varieties.

  4. I don’t know about currants but in Australia wild blackberries are a terrible scourge, growing into huge tall prickly bushes that are difficult to get rid of. Apparently the European settlers planted them so they would have food when they got lost in the bush, and to remind them of home. They also released rabbits, which weren’t here and aren’t native, but loved it and thrived. Your currant bushes and flowers are very attractive, the flowers a bit like pale daffodils.

    • Blackberries are also a terrible scourge in places like Washington State and British Columbia, though the berries are tasty!

  5. I have a currant plant in my garden but it is a volunteer from someplace else. Years ago it started growing, as did any number of volunteers. I have since removed all those ‘free’ plants, but the currant is still sitting next to the generator. I have no idea what species it might be.

  6. I certainly think this bloom leans toward yellow. It is a nice looking plant. I don’t think I have ever seen it for sale anyplace. I would love to have a start of it. I don’t have it in my garden but it sounds like the birds would appreciate it.

  7. I’ve never grown currants, but would be interested in doing so if they grow here. Right now, I’m growing two varieties of blackberries. The currants look nice in your photos and anything that benefits birds is a plus.

  8. My clove currant (rides odoratum) came from Shooting Star in Kentucky. The nursery is only about a 20-minute drive from where I live. They only sell by appointment now, but is worth the effort to visit their spread and see the wonderful assortment of natives. My clove currant has already bloomed!

  9. I don’ t know this one. I have Ribes odoratum which is similar. I absent-mindedly cut it down in the autumn but it is growing again now. Another lovely currant in bloom now Ribes speciosum which looks like a Fuschia.

  10. What I learned from your entry today is why the British currant beverage is called Ribena! Friends nearby have wild currants, but not I. I do have lots of wild blackberry! I was just out in the rock garden this evening, cutting it back, giving serious thought to spraying some well-aimed Round-Up at it! (I probably won’t). I do like the berries, when I get them before the birds do (rarely!).

  11. The birds have blessed us with a smattering of wild currants but they are all a deep pink. Just discovered the yellow and white forms at the nursery. Yours are lovely.

  12. I have wild raspberry, it looks very similar to yours but has red flowers. It’s good that you have so many wildlife friendly plants, they need all the help they can get. Love the yellow blooms.xxx

  13. Looks like a beautiful plant, Jason.

    But seems from its native range that it probably would not appreciate our Tennessee summers.

    So I’ll just stick with my two clove currants. They’re still young, but doing great this year. Hope to get more in the future!

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