Ribes sanguineum Grossulariaceae
Red Flowering Currant, Pink Winter Currant ri-BEEZ san-gwin-EE-um
- Deciduous multistemmed shrub, 8-10 ft (2.5-3 m) tall, upright-arching to rounded habit. Leaves alternate, simple, 6 cm wide, rounded, 3-5 lobes, dark green pubescent above, whitish tomentose below. Blooms in early spring, flowers clusters (2.5-8 cm long) hang down and cover stems, 10-30 flowers per cluster; colors from rich red to pink and white. Fruit blue-black with whitish bloom, 7-9 mm long, "edible but insipid."
- Sun. Can be grown in tree form.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 6 Native from British Columbia to northern California. Many cultivars, here are few that are available in the Pacific Northwest:
- 'Elk River Red' - red flowers; 8-10 × 7 ft (2.4-3 ×2 m), reportedly collected ca. 1970 close to the Elk River near Port Orford, Oregon.
- 'Pulborough Scarlet' - red flowers, obvious white centers, vigorous, 10 × 10 ft (3 × 3 m), a chance seedling discovered in 1933 in England, Pulborough is a village in West Sussex, England. Royal Hort. Soc. Award of Garden Merit, 1993.
- 'King Edward VII' - (King of Great Britain, 1901-10), pinkish-red flowers, more compact than the type, 7 × 7 ft (2.1 × 2.1 m), apparently the first garden cultivar of the species, developed in Europe, Royal Hort. Soc. Award of Merit, 1904. Great Plant Pick, Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden, Seattle.
- 'Pokey's Pink' - light pink flowers, 6-8 × 6 ft (1.8-2.4 × 1.8 m), chance discovery in the Columbia Gorge.
- 'Spring Showers' - pink flowers, blooms a little later than 'Elk River Red', 6-8 × 6 ft (1.8-2.4 × 1.8 m). Collected from California's north coast by Nevin Smith from an exposed knoll near Jenner in 1972.
- 'White Icicle' - white flowers, blooms early, compact, 6-8 × 6 ft (1.8-2.4 × 1.8 m), UBC introduction, 1988.
- Archibald Menzies is regarded as the first European to discover Ribes sanguineum, which he did in 1793 during his voyage with Capt. George Vancouver. However, it was David Douglas, the famous Scottish plant explorer, who introduced it into British commerce. He found Ribes sanguineum growing near Fort Vancouver soon after his arrival in the spring of 1825. He sent seeds back to England, and the new plants flowered in 1828 when they were a little over two years old. The employer of Douglas, the Horticultural Society, considered this new, red flowering, acquisition to be sufficient justification for the cost, some £400, of his entire three year expedition (Coats, 1992).
- sanguineum: blood-red, the flowers.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: Hort Garden west of Cordley Hall.