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Ribes divaricatum (spreading gooseberry)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
Type species
Ribes rubrum
About 200 species
Distribution of Ribes species
  • Grossularia Miller
  • Ribesium Medikus

Ribes (/ˈrbz/)[5] is a genus of about 200 known species of flowering plants, most of them native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.[2] The various species are known as currants or gooseberries, and some are cultivated for their edible fruit or as ornamental plants. Ribes is the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae.



Ribes species are medium shrublike plants[6] with marked diversity in strikingly diverse flowers and fruit.[7] They have either palmately lobed or compound leaves, and some have thorns.[6] The sepals of the flowers are larger than the petals, and fuse into a tube or saucer shape.[6] The ovary is inferior, maturing into a berry with many seeds.[6]



Ribes is the single genus in the Saxifragales family Grossulariaceae. Although once included in the broader circumscription of Saxifragaceae sensu lato, it is now positioned as a sister group to Saxifragaceae sensu stricto.[8]



First treated on a worldwide basis in 1907,[9] the infrageneric classification has undergone many revisions,[10] and even in the era of molecular phylogenetics there has been contradictory evidence.[7] Although sometimes treated as two separate genera, Ribes and Grossularia (Berger 1924),[11] the consensus has been to consider it as a single genus, divided into a number of subgenera, the main ones of which are subgenus Ribes (currants) and subgenus Grossularia (gooseberries), further subdivided into sections.[10] Janczewski (1907) considered six subgenera and eleven sections.[9] Berger's twelve subgenera based on two distinct genera (see Senters & Soltis (2003) Table 1) have subsequently been demoted to sections.[8][7] Weigend (2007) elevated a number of sections to produce a taxonomy of seven subgenera; Ribes (sections Ribes, Heretiera, Berisia) Coreosma, Calobotrya (sections Calobotrya, Cerophyllum), Symphocalyx, Grossularioides, Grossularia, Parilla.[12][13]

Taxonomy, according to Berger, modified by Sinnott (1985):[8][7]

  • Subgenus Ribes L. (currants) 8 sections
    • Section Berisia Spach (alpine currants)
    • Section Calobotrya (Spach) Jancz. (ornamental currants)
    • Section Coreosma (Spach) Jancz. (black currants)
    • Section Grossularioides ( Jancz.) Rehd. (spiny or Gooseberry-stemmed currants)
    • Section Heritiera Jancz. (dwarf or skunk currants)
    • Section Parilla Jancz. (Andine or South American currants)
    • Section Ribes L. (red currants)
    • Section Symphocalyx Berland. (golden currants)
  • Subgenus Grossularia (Mill.) Pers. (Gooseberries) 4 sections
    • Section Grossularia (Mill.) Nutt.
    • Section Robsonia Berland.
    • Section Hesperia A.Berger
    • Section Lobbia A. Berger

Some authors continued to treat Hesperia and Lobbia as subgenera.[14][7] Early molecular studies suggested that subgenus Grossularia was actually embedded within subgenus Ribes.[15] Analysis of combined molecular datasets confirms subgenus Grossularia as a monophyletic group, with two main lineages, sect. Grossularia and another clade consisting of glabrous gooseberies, including Hesperia, Lobbia and Robsonia. Other monophyletic groups identified were Calobotrya, Parilla, Symphocalyx and Berisia. However sections Ribes, Coreosma and Heritiera were not well supported. Consequently, there is insufficient resolution to justify further taxonomic revision.[7]


Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)
Redcurrant (Ribes rubrum)
Ribes speciosum (fuchsia-flowered gooseberry)

There are around 200 species of Ribes.[2] Selected species include:

Distribution and habitat


Ribes is widely distributed through the Northern Hemisphere, and also extending south in the mountainous areas of South America.[7] Species can be found in meadows or near streams.[6]



Currants are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.



The genus Ribes includes the edible currants: blackcurrant, redcurrant, and white currant, as well as the European gooseberry, Ribes uva-crispa, and several hybrid varieties. It should not be confused with the dried currants used in cakes and puddings, which are from the Zante currant, a small-fruited cultivar of the grape Vitis vinifera. Ribes gives its name to the popular blackcurrant cordial Ribena.

The genus also includes the group of ornamental plants collectively known as the flowering currants, for instance, R. sanguineum.

United States


There are restrictions on growing some Ribes species in some U.S. states, as they are the main alternate host for white pine blister rust.

Restrictions on cultivation of Ribes in the United States:
State Restrictions
Connecticut[16] No longer restricted
Delaware[17] R. aureum and R. nigrum prohibited entirely. Shipment, transport, or propagation of all other Ribes species require a permit.
Maine[18] Planting or possession of R. nigrum prohibited statewide. All other Ribes species prohibited in certain counties and towns.
Maryland No restrictions found; state agricultural extension service provides advice on currant and gooseberry culture.[19]
Massachusetts[20] Transport of R. nigrum prohibited throughout the Commonwealth. Other species of Ribes require a permit, with the caveat that permits shall not issue for a list of municipalities that cover most of the Commonwealth.
Michigan R. nigrum prohibited statewide.[21] Other species of Ribes and Grossularia require a permit in the blister rust control area, which includes the entirety of the Upper Peninsula and the northern and western portions of the Lower Peninsula.[22]
New Hampshire[23] All Ribes species prohibited without a permit. Permits are sometimes issued for rust-resistant cultivars.[24]
New Jersey[25] Possession or transport of R. nigrum requires a permit statewide. Possession or movement of all Ribes and Grossularia species is prohibited in certain municipalities in Sussex, Passaic and Morris Counties. Grossularia and Ribes other than R. nigrum otherwise requires only compliance with general regulations on movement of nursery stock.
New York[26] All Ribes species are prohibited in nine counties of the Adirondack Mountains, and in many townships in the Adirondacks and Catskills. R. nigrum is prohibited throughout the state, except that cultivars known to be immune to Cronartium ribicola, the white pine blister rust, may be grown wherever other Ribes species are permitted.
North Carolina[27] All Ribes species prohibited. The North Carolina Forest Service maintains an active eradication program for Ribes in the western part of the state.[28]
Ohio[29] Possession, transport, planting, propagation, sale or offering for sale of R. nigrum is prohibited. Cultivars known to be immune to Cronartium ribicola, the white pine blister rust, are exempt. The law does not prohibit other Ribes species.
Pennsylvania PennState Extension states:[30] "In 1933, Pennsylvania passed a law that limited growing gooseberries and currants in certain areas; however, the law is not enforced. Therefore, all Ribes can be grown in the state."
Rhode Island[31] R. nigrum, R. aureum, and R. odoratum are prohibited throughout the state. Other Ribes species require permits to transport or plant and are forbidden in some municipalities, or within 900 feet of a stand of five-leaved pines one acre or more in extent or a nursery cultivating five-leaved pines.
Vermont New England Small Fruit Management Guide[32] asserts that there are "No regulations at present."
Virginia[33] R. nigrum plants may not be moved to any destination in Virginia.
West Virginia[34] R. nigrum plants may not be moved to any destination in West Virginia. Other Ribes species are prohibited in 23 counties.



Blackfoot people used blackcurrant root (Ribes hudsonianum) for the treatment of kidney diseases and menstrual and menopausal problems. The Cree used the fruit of Ribes glandulosum as a fertility enhancer to assist women in becoming pregnant.[35]

European immigrants who settled in North America in the 18th century typically made wine from both red and white currants.[36]


  1. ^ APG IV 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Ribes L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  3. ^ Morin 2008.
  4. ^ Lu, Lingdi; Alexander, Crinan. "Ribes". Flora of China. Vol. 8 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  5. ^ "ribes". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  6. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Ronald J. (1994) [1992]. Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary (rev. ed.). Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Pub. Co. p. 42. ISBN 0-87842-280-3. OCLC 25708726.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Schultheis & Donoghue 2004.
  8. ^ a b c Messinger 1995.
  9. ^ a b Janczewski 1907.
  10. ^ a b Sinnott 1985.
  11. ^ Berger 1924.
  12. ^ Weigend et al 2002.
  13. ^ Weigend 2007.
  14. ^ Messinger et al 1999.
  15. ^ Senters & Soltis 2003.
  16. ^ "Currant (Ribes)". The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. State of Connecticut. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  17. ^ "803 Rules and Regulations for the Control and Suppression of the White Pine Blister Rust". Delaware General Assembly: Delaware Regulations. State of Delaware. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Quarantine Information". Maine Forest Service. State of Maine. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Growing Small Fruits". University of Maryland Extension. State of Maryland. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  20. ^ "330 CMR 9.00: Plant quarantines". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  21. ^ "286.104 Cultivated black currant declared public nuisance; destruction". Michigan Legislature: Michigan Compiled Laws. State of Michigan. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  22. ^ "White Pine Blister Rust Resistant Currant and Gooseberry Varieties" (PDF). Michigan Department of Agriculture. State of Michigan. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  23. ^ "227-K:6 White Pine Blister Rust Control Areas". State of New Hampshire. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  24. ^ "White Pine Blister Rust in NH | NH Division of Forests and Lands". www.nh.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  25. ^ "Department of Agriculture : Plant Pest Survey". State of New Jersey. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Crop Profile: Currants in New York". Cornell Cooperative Extension. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  27. ^ "02 NCAC 48A .0401 Currant and Gooseberry Plants". State of North Carolina. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  28. ^ "White Pine Blister Rust". Plant Industry - Plant Protection Section. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  29. ^ Ellis, Michael A.; Horst, Leona. "White Pine Blister Rust on Currants and Gooseberries". Ohioline. Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  30. ^ "Home Fruit Plantings: Gooseberries and Currants". PennState Extension. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  31. ^ "250-RICR-40-10-2 Rules and Regulations Governing the Suppression of White Pine Blister Rust" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Currants and Gooseberries". NE Small Fruit Management Guide. Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  33. ^ "2VAC5-450-40. European black currant plants". Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  34. ^ "West Virginia White Pine Blister Rust Quarantine" (PDF). West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  35. ^ Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.
  36. ^ Kalm, Pehr (1772). Travels into North America: containing its natural history, and a circumstantial account of its plantations and agriculture in general, with the civil, ecclesiastical and commercial state of the country, the manners of the inhabitants, and several curious and important remarks on various subjects. Translated by Johann Reinhold Forster. London: T. Lowndes. p. 67. ISBN 9780665515002. OCLC 1083889360.



Books and theses






Media related to Ribes at Wikimedia Commons