Golden Currant

goldencurrant1

Today I planted a small hedge of golden currant.  If all goes well the shrubs will screen off an ugly view of the road and we will enjoy flowers scented like something between cloves and vanilla. If we are lucky we should start enjoying fruit within 3 years. Golden currant is not picky about soil type and shows heat, drought, juglone and shade tolerance. Ribes aureum is a native plant that grows almost everywhere in North America. Apparently bees and hummingbirds love the blossoms.

When I first discovered this plant in a reference book I wondered why I never saw it in people’s gardens here. I thought there must be some kind of drawback … maybe it requires more chill hours than we can expect … maybe it is super susceptible to fungi problems …

A lot of the information I found from internet sources was directly contradictory: some saying it ought to thrive while others said it was impossible to grow here.

So I contacted the master gardener’s program, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and even a local t.v. gardening show. Few of the local sources were familiar with the plant. None were able to tell me how it might perform in a garden setting. The only person who had an inkling was the guy who wrote back to me from the master gardener help line. He thought he might have seen it growing wild in a nearby town and encouraged me to give it a try.

I got the plants from the University of Idaho Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research. I would have preferred a local source but at this point I am feeling like some kind of reckless pioneer. I received the plants within 2 days of placing the order. The root systems were well developed and there were healthy leaf buds on the stems. I cannot recommend this service more highly. Plus, the price was most agreeable: $2.50 for 5 plants.  No, that is not a typo. You can find their catalog here. They offer a nice selection of native plants.

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6 thoughts on “Golden Currant

  1. “Golden currant occurs in the moist canyons and shady gullies near streams and on rocky or sandy hills at elevations of 3000 to 8000 feet in the southern part of the Trans-Pecos north into New Mexico, Arizona, California, Montana, Washington and Canada. This small to medium unarmed shrub has upright branches bearing light green shiny 3-lobed leaves resembling miniature maple leaves. The very showy, occasionally fragrant tubular yellow spring flowers produce red, yellow, black or brown berries which contrast nicely with its handsome foliage. Golden currant is useful for erosion control and wildlife food and cover, or as a texture contrast in a shady garden. The fruits were formerly used with buffalo meat to make pemmican. There are three varieties of Ribes aureum.”

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  2. Hi Debra. I planted a buffalo currant in my garden a few years ago. It did not have a botanical name, so I decided it was Ribes aureum after searching the internet. I originally planted mine in a dry sunny spot. It did fine until the heat of the summer and the leaves began to drop. It did not seem to hurt the plant, but did not look very good by the end of the summer. A couple of years ago, I moved it under the shade of an oak tree. The leaves hold better during the summer but I am not sure it blooms as well. I only had a few blooms this year due to a late freeze and maybe the shade. I am looking forward to hearing how yours perform. I would like to find a male plant so I can get some fruit. Welcome to the blog world. I will list you on my blog links page. Are you in the Austin area?

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    1. Thank you for the planting suggestions and the link.

      I have the currants placed in an area that should get dappled shade through the day so … fingers are crossed.

      I am in the Austin area.

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