American Black Currant (Ribes odoratum) ‘Crandall’ Flower

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Can you believe these flowers belong to a black currant bush?

It recently occurred to me that I have a red currant bush and a gooseberry bush, but do not have a black currant bush. This despite the fact that I like the idea of gooseberries and red currants more than I like to eat them. Black currant on the other hand is divine.

Anyways, I actually do sort of have a black currant bush growing in my community garden plot right now. I say sort-of only because I’m not entirely sure it’s a black currant. A seedling that looks like a black currant came up as a volunteer a few years back so I stuck it in a corner and let it grow, waiting to find out what it is and hoping that it is indeed a black currant. I have absolutely no idea where the plant came from. Two years in and it is now taller than my gooseberry bush and continues to look like a black currant with the possible exception of the leaves that seem a bit too big, but it’s hard to say because some varieties do have slightly bigger leaves. Also, while at the garden centre, I noticed jostaberry, which is not unlike a black currant bush but with larger leaves. So perhaps it is a jostaberry. But who can know? Until it flowers and produces fruit, I remain in the dark. That could take another few years yet, but I like a good mystery and am willing to wait it out despite a lack of space.

Meanwhile, I have been longing for a real and true black currant and had decided I was just going to suck it up and get one. And then I almost didn’t, again. Because the bushes at the store were $14.99 each and not particularly big. And because I am cheap and figured I should just wait until the fall when they are on sale, which is how I got the gooseberry bush. However, while browsing the selection I found this one, called ‘Crandall’, with beautifully ornamental yellow and orange flowers. That sealed the deal.

You’ll note that ‘Crandall’ is not a regular black currant (Ribes nigrum), but is another species, Ribes odoratum. Apparently the berries have a spicy or clove flavor, and I can tell you that the flowers certainly do. Unfortunately, I did not choose well for my small community garden plot and managed to find the largest bush going (4ft at maturity). Some people say you need two bushes to produce fruit but other more reliable sources say you don’t. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

And there you have it. I am now the proud, albeit tentative owner of a black currant bush. Jam to come in another 12 to 24 months.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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3 thoughts on “American Black Currant (Ribes odoratum) ‘Crandall’ Flower

  1. I have 5 gooseberry bushes. I used to have red, white and black currant bushes but they were not in a good place. Black currant certainly is one of the most unique flavors you will ever run across. I suspect you will either love it or hate it.

    I love the way the currants look in the sunshine. The reds just glow.


  2. I’ve learned a lot from you.

    Sometimes though, I just love to see your photos and not even bother reading what you write. Your photographs are always breathtaking! Thank you!

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