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Common Names:Stink Currant or Blue Currant
Ribes bracteosum is a deciduous shrub, without thorns, growing to 3 m tall. The leaves are 5-20 cm broad, palmately lobed with five to seven lobes. The flowers are produced in spring after the leaves emerge, on racemes 15-30 cm long of 20-40 flowers; each flower is 5-10 mm diameter, with five white or greenish-tinged petals. The fruit, born in clusters, is dark blue with a whitish bloom, edible but sometimes unpleasant.
Easily grown in a moisture retentive but well-drained loamy soil of at least moderate quality. Requires a sunny position. Hardy to about -20°c. Plants can harbour a stage of ‘white pine blister rust’, so they should not be grown in the vicinity of pine trees. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. The fruit is produced on long sprigs and is therefore easier to harvest. It is being used in modern breeding programmes for blackcurrants.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months cold stratification at 2 to 5°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible. Under normal storage conditions the seed can remain viable for 17 years or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring of the following year Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 – 15cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year’s growth, November to February in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Not very palatable. The fruit can cause stomach upsets if eaten in large quantities. The fruit has a mild blackcurrant flavour, though it is not so juicy, has a mealy texture and a slight bitterness. It ripens in September and is acceptable in small quantities raw, it can also be used in pies, preserves etc and makes an excellent jam. It can be dried and stored for winter use. Native North American Indians considered the fruit to be constipating and so would eat it with oil. The fruit is about 5mm in diameter, it is produced on long racemes, making it much easier to harvest than most currants.
The fruits can be eaten in quantity as a laxative. An infusion of the stems has been given to children as a treatment for colds.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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