The Grossulariaceae family consists of currants and gooseberries in our area. They are substantial, woody shrubs, with or without prickles, from the genus Ribes. They have alternate and usually palmately (hand-like) lobed leaves. The flowers are in clusters of few to several at the ends of the branches. Within each flower, the sepals are generally showier than the petals. The (usually) 5 sepals are fused to the ovary and extend beyond it to form a tubular or saucer-shaped free hypanthium to which the 5 petals are attached. The flowers have usually 5 stamens, alternate with the petals and with them inserted near, or at, the top of the hypanthium. The two styles vary from separate to completely fused. The fruits are several-seeded berries, all of which are edible, however in some species they are not very tasty. The family consists of about a dozen genera and 150 species worldwide. Most of the genera, with the notable exception of Ribes, occur chiefly or entirely in the Southern Hemisphere.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Currant Family
STEMS NOT SPINY: CURRANTS
Ribes aureum Golden Currant Shrub 1-3 m tall, without spines. Stream banks, flood plains to forests.
Flowers yellow, about 10-15 mm long, with 5 spreading lobes and long tube.
Leaves 2-5 cm broad, mostly 3-lobed, hairless. Berries black, about 7 mm long.
Ribes cereum Wax Currant Shrub 0.5-1 m tall, without spines. Woods, thickets, rocky areas.
Flowers whitish to pink, 10-15 mm long, with long tube, sticky-glandular.
Leaves 1.5-2.5 cm broad, 3-5-lobed, short-hairy. Berries red, 6-8 mm long.
Ribes hudsonianum Northern Black Currant Shrub 0.5-1 m tall, without spines. Stream banks, moist woods, thickets.
Flowers white, about 1 cm broad, many in long, narrow clusters.
Leaves with 3-5 pointed, toothed lobes, hairy. Berries black, 7-12 mm long.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Currant family: