Ribes sanguineum Flowering Currant; Winter Currant
Ulster Folk Museum grounds

Family: Grossulariaceae

Origin: Western USA as far south as California

This member of the gooseberry family is a plant we know well in Northern Ireland, as it has escaped from gardens many years ago, and is now naturalised along many roadside hedgerows, especially along the Coast Road in Co Antrim, where it is to be seen in flower in March, long before other woody species are in bloom. Its leaves have a pungent smell, and are very like those of the gooseberry, but it is without the gooseberry's sharp thorns. It usually grows up to about 2-3 m tall.

Ulster Folk Museum grounds

Leaves are up to 10 cm long, heart-shaped at the base, with 3 or 5 broad lobes, veined and felted beneath, with an irregularly toothed edge. The tubular pink flowers are borne in small, many-flowered racemes, drooping at first, then ascending.

There are many varieties available with differing shades of red to pink, or white, or double flowers.

Belfast Botanic Gardens

Discovered in 1793 and introduced in 1817.

The name Ribes is said to be derived from the Persian or Arabic word ribas, meaning acid-tasting; sanguineum means blood-red.

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