Ribes americanum (Wild Black Currant)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Black Currant, Eastern Black Currant
Family:Grossulariaceae (Gooseberry)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist; open woods, streambanks, swamps, wet meadows, ravines
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:2 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Dangling clusters 1 to 3 inches long arising from leaf axils of lateral branches, made up of 6 to 20 stalked flowers. Flowers are about ½ inch long, generally bell-shaped, pale yellow to greenish-white with 5 erect petals. Inside the tube are 5 creamy colored stamens that are about as long as the petals. The calyx cupping the flower is yellowish green, the 5 sepal lobes rather petal-like, much longer and showier than the actual petals, oblong to somewhat spatula-shaped with rounded tips, widely spreading and about the same color as the true petals. Between the calyx and flower stalk is a smooth, green ovary. At the base of the flower stalk is a lance-linear, leaf-like bract that is longer than the stalk. Flower stalks and bracts are covered in woolly hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 2 inches long and about as wide, coarsely toothed, rounded to somewhat heart-shaped at the base, with 3 to 5 primary lobes that may be again shallowly lobed. Veins are prominent and radiate from the base. Leaf stalks are as long as or shorter than the blade and minutely hairy to variously covered in long, bent, feathery hairs.

[photo of glands and hairs] The upper surface is medium to dark green, smooth to sparsely hairy and usually dotted with yellow glands, the lower surface paler and more densely hairy, especially along the veins, and is gland-dotted.

[photo of winged stem and older reddish stem] New twigs are green, hairy, and gland-dotted, becoming smooth and gray with winged ridges that eventually peel away. Older stems are dark reddish with white lenticels (pores). Stems are multiple from the base, little branched, erect to ascending or sometimes arching, and lack thorns or prickles.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a smooth, round berry up to 1/3 inch diameter, ripening from green to reddish purple and finally black. Inside are many tiny seeds.


The Ribes species consist of both gooseberries and currants. Currants are distinguished by their lack of any spines, prickles or thorns on the stems, which all gooseberries have to some degree, and clusters of 6 or more flowers, where gooseberries have clusters of only 1 to 4 flowers. Most currants have saucer-shaped flowers, but those of Wild Black Currant are more bell-shaped and similar to several gooseberries species. However, unlike gooseberries, Wild Black Currant has no prickly stems, and 6 or more flowers per cluster.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Lake and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Phyllis - 10 miles north of Aitkin near the Mississippi
on: 2016-03-17 14:51:03

They bloom about the time hummingbirds arrive and have witness the birds trying to feed. Mine are growing next to basswood clumps. They must have been seeded out because they grow on any and every side of a tree clump. Sun, semi-shade. Soil type is clay. Have left them as part of a wild garden around the clump. They do get blistered leaves. I don't know if this is what is called the white pine blister. If someone knows what it is or what can be done about it I would appreciate it. So far, I've just cut and burned the stems and leaves. Is this also the reason they produce just a few berries? Thank you

Posted by: kristin driessen - Owatonna, MN
on: 2018-05-20 18:47:05

Found this in my woods. So many new things have popped up since ice storm a few years ago that knocked down some big trees. Have also seen it on local trails.

Posted by: Tom K. - SW Minnesota
on: 2019-09-09 13:02:09

These are common in woods in my area but do not grow or produce well in such full shade. Three years ago I moved a single young plant to my full sun redcurrant patch. It took a season to acclimate to full sun. Last year the plant grew well and produced a few berries. This year the plant yielded 6 pounds of berries, 1 to 1.5 lbs. per picking every 3-4 days. High production this year makes sense to me because it is my understanding that these plants produce on three year old wood. I am moving a few more of these plants to the berry patch to allow for cross pollination. Branches lodge due to berry weight so best to prop up branches with a circular short height fencing around bush. Bush had to be netted against birds feeding on the berries. No WPBR has been observed in this area.

Posted by: Nancy Cyr - Vadnais Heights, Ramsey County
on: 2020-05-25 10:32:01

I have several shrubs that have appeared in my wooded back yard in the last 5 years.

Posted by: Ellen Schousboe - Pamela Park, Edina, Hennepin Co.
on: 2021-05-08 09:08:04

These shrubs have appeared in a few places in Pamela Park this year. I have never seen them here before - they're unlike anything else.

Posted by: Carly AustinKukowski - Winona
on: 2024-05-05 13:15:01

Found along the old highway to Kellog, just north of John Latch State Park.

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