Ribes spicatum and Ribes sativum are treated as a distinct species in some works, whilst others reduce them to synonymy with Ribes rubrum. They are treated here as distinct[
Ribes rubrum sativum Ribes rubrum var. sativum
Common Name: Redcurrant
Ribes sativum is an unarmed, spreading, deciduous shrub that can grow around 100cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
W. Europe, possibly including Britain.
Hedges and woods, avoiding acid soils.
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Ribes sativum is very cold hardy, when dormant it can tolerate temperatures falling to around -20°c[
Easily grown in a moisture retentive but well-drained loamy soil of at least moderate quality[
]. Plants are quite tolerant of shade, succeeding on an east or even a north-facing wall, though not fruiting so well in such a position[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 6[
The red currant is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[
]. Most cultivars are self-fertile and set a good crop on their own[
]. The fruit is produced at the base of one-year old and older wood, plants start to fruit at 3 - 4 years from seed[
]. Red currant fruits are an absolute magnet for birds and so the plants will usually need some protection to allow the crop to ripen[
]. Alternatively, you can put this attraction for the birds to good use by planting red currants specifically for the birds. Whilst they are eating these fruits they will not be eating your other fruits[
White pine blister rust, caused by the pathogen Cronartium ribicola, is a fungal disease that is native to Asia but has spread via human activity to many other regions, where it has become more virulent. It has a complex life-cycle that requires both currants (Ribes species) and white pines (Pinus species of the section Strobus) for the disease to spread. Whilst Ribes species can generally live with the disease (it has an annual life-cycle and infects the leaves only) Pinus species can be devastated by it (it becomes perennial and spreads through the tree). Young pines are far more susceptible than mature trees. In America the growing of certain Ribes species is banned in some areas in order to protect plantations of white pine species.
Plants in this genus tend to be notably susceptible to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked in jams, compotes, jellies, puddings, pies etc[
]. An acid taste that many people find too strong to eat raw, the fruit makes an excellent jam or preserves[
]. The fruit is rich in vitamin C[
]. There are rather a lot of seeds in each fruit[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at between 0 and 5°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible[
]. Under normal storage conditions the seed can remain viable for 17 years or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year's growth, late autumn to late winter in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors[