Currant

Ribes /ˈraɪbiːz/ is a genus of about 150 species of flowering plants native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is usually treated as the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae. Seven subgenera are recognized.

Sometimes Ribes is instead included in the family Saxifragaceae. A few taxonomists place the gooseberry species in a separate genus of Grossularia.


Cultivation


The genus Ribes includes the edible currants (blackcurrant, redcurrant, whitecurrant), gooseberry, and several hybrid varieties. It should not be confused with the dried currant used in cakes and puddings, which is a cultivar of small grape (Zante currant). It 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.

There are restrictions on growing some Ribes species in some U.S. states, as they are a host for White Pine Blister Rust.


Medicinal


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

Currant root and seeds are high in gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA). GLA has been clinically verified as an effective treatment for pre-menstrual syndrome.


Ecology


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

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