Currants

Flowering Currant Red Currant Common Gooseberry Black Currant

What are they?

The currants are a group of woody, often suckering, shrubs. Some species have attractive flowers and are popular as garden ornamentals, while others produce edible berries and, although native, are perhaps better known as culinary garden plants.

Where are they found?

The species of currant in our region consist of native species that are most often found in damp, shady ground, plus a handful of introduced species that may be found as occasional garden escapes in hedgerows, roadsides and waste places.

Identification

These species are relatively easy to identify by a combination of leaf shape and flowers or fruits. Distinguishing the native Red and Black Currants is a little more tricky, but the presence of glands on the underside of Black Currant leaves are easily seen.



Red Currant      Ribes rubrum

Possibly native in wet sallow or alder carr in river valleys and the Broads, but also widely found in damp places where probably bird-sown from cultivated sources. Flowers April to May. Palmate leaves without glands and without a strong smell when rubbed. Flowers opening fully to an almost flat, saucer-shape.
Red Currant Red Currant Red Currant Red Currant
Habit
Leaf
Flowers
Fruit
Red Currant
Winter twig


Black Currant      Ribes nigrum

Possibly native in wet sallow or alder carr in river valleys and the Broads, but also found in damp places were probably bird-sown from cultivated sources. Less common than Red Currant. Flowers April to May. Palmate leaves with dot-like, yellow glands on the underside and with a strong, musty smell when rubbed. Flowers bell-like, not flat and saucer-shaped.
Black Currant Black Currant Black Currant Black Currant
Habit
Glands on leaf underside
Flowers
Fruit
Black Currant
Winter twig


Common Gooseberry      Ribes uva-crispa

Probably not native, but appearing so when growing in old woods. Widespread in a wide range of habitats in woods, hedgebanks, roadsides and rough ground. Flowers April to May. Leaves smaller than those of the currants and stems armed with sharp thorns in groups of three.
Common Gooseberry Common Gooseberry Common Gooseberry
Leaf
Flower
Fruit
Common Gooseberry
Winter twig


Flowering Currant      Ribes sanguineum

Introduced from North America and a popular garden shrub. The berries are eaten by birds and bird-sown plants are frequent in urban and suburban places on undeveloped ground, in hedgerows, churchyards and similar places. Flowers April to May. Flowers usually deep red, but may be pale pink or white. Winter twigs and buds reddish with short down on the twigs.
Flowering Currant Flowering Currant Flowering Currant Flowering Currant
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Fruit
Flowering Currant
Winter twig


Buffalo Currant      Ribes odoratum

Introduced as a garden ornamental from North America. Formerly reported from Suffolk as a garden escape but there have been no recent records. Flowers April to May. Leaves glossy, deeply three-lobed with rounded tips; stems do not have thorns. Flowers are strongly clove-scented.
Buffalo Currant Buffalo Currant Buffalo Currant
Flowers
Flowers
Leaf


Mountain Currant      Ribes alpinum

Native to Europe, including northern Britain. Recorded once from central Norfolk as an introduction but may not still be present. Flowers April to May. Leaves unscented, deeply three-lobed and more sharply-toothed than those of Buffalo Currant.
Mountain Currant
Leaves