Northern Black Currant
Ribes hudsonianum Richards.
Family: Grossulariaceae, Currant
Genus: Ribes
Synonyms:
Other names: western black currant
Nomenclature: hudsonianum = named after Hudson
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: erect shrub, without spines, mostly 0.5-1.5 m tall, more or less glandular all over with stalkless, round, yellow, crystalline and shining glands, and with a characteristic strong, sweetish, rather unpleasant odor.

Leaves: alternate, the blades broadly cordate, 3.5-9 cm broad, usually glandular but otherwise hairless to copiously hairy and pale on the lower surface and sparsely hairy on the upper, with 3-5 pointed, toothed lobes.

Flowers: many in elongate clusters up to 17 cm long. Flower stalks slender, jointed below the flowers, 3-8 mm long. Ovary conical, covered with stalkless glands. Calyx white, thickly crisp-short-hairy, widely flared and somewhat saucer-shaped, 1-1.5 mm long, lined, the 5 sepals obovate, 3-4 mm long, spreading. The 5 petals white, about 1.5 mm long, wedge-shaped upward. The 5 stamens inserted below but about equaling the petals. Filaments hairless, anthers oval, about 0.7 mm long. Styles about 2 mm long, joined slightly more than half their length at flowering. May-July.

Fruits: berries, almost round, 7-12 mm long, black and more or less waxy-coated, hairless or more commonly stalkless-glandular, bitter and bad-tasting.


Distribution

Stream banks, moist woods, and thickets at the edge of mountain meadows, in w. and s.c. parts of MT. Also from AK to Hudson's Bay, s. to n. CA, UT, WY, and MN.
var. petiolare:
Edible Uses

The fruits of northern black currant are edible raw or cooked. They don't taste very good raw, however they can be made into black currant jelly or jam, which is delicious with meat, fish or bannock.



Medicinal Uses

A decoction of the stem sections, used alone or with wild gooseberry stems has been used to treat sickness after childbirth. The raw fruits have been eaten as a treatment for colds. A decoction of the stems and leaves has been used in the treatment of colds, sore throats and stomach complaints, and has also been taken as a general panacea to treat all types of sickness and also tuberculosis. Large quantities of northern black currants can be strongly purgative, and can even cause vomiting at the same time but not if they are mixed with cranberries. The Thompson tribe believed that this shrub had a calming effect on children, so sprigs of it were often put in baby carriers.



Sub taxa:

var. hudsonianum Richards.:
Plant rather generally hairy, the leaf blades short-hairy over the entire lower surface and usually with some short hairs on the upper surface. Ovary often without glands. From AK to Hudson's Bay, s. to s. B.C. and occasional to Okanogan Co., WA, n. ID and MT, and MN.

var. petiolare (Dougl. ) Jancz.:
Plant from almost totally hairless (except for the stalkless glands) to lightly short-hairy on the calyces, young stems, leaf stalks, and at least along the veins of the lower surface of the leaves. Ovary glandular. From s. B.C. southward in the Cascade Mts. to s.w. OR and n. CA, e. to ID, MT, UT, and n. WY.

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