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Flowering Currant - Ribes sanguineum

Flowering Currant - Ribes sanguineum

Main features

  • An ornamental shrub that has naturalised and can be found mostly in woodland and hedgerows, but also in more open areas

  • Lobed palmate leaves with a sweet sage/rosemary-like smell when rubbed or crushed

  • Dangling panicles of flowers (resembling a bunch of grapes before opening) 

  • Individual flowers can be red, pink or white and have five petals

  • Fragrance of flowers sweet sage/rosemary-like, but less strong than leaves

  • Flowers followed by berries that mature to a dark purple with a grey cast on their surface

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Flowering Currant - Ribes sanguineum

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Blood Currant


Scientific name meaning: Ribes is Arabic in origin and means "having sour sap". Sanguineum has Latin roots meaning, "blood, full of blood, or bloody" in reference to the colour of the flowers

Season Spring and Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? An ornamental plant that is popular in gardens and parks, it has naturalised in the UK. In the wild, it is usually found in woodland and hedgerows, but can be found in open places as well.

It is native to North America and has naturalised in the UK

Description - what does it look like? As a member of the same family of blackcurrant and redcurrants, Flowering Currant bears a strong structural resemblance to these.

It has palmately-lobed leaves with a sweet sage/rosemary-like smell when crushed. 

The flower heads are dangling raceme that resemble bunches of grapes before the flowers open. Once open, the flowers are either red, pink or white and have a sweet sage/rosemary-like smell, but less strong than the leaves.

The berries that follow the flowers ripen to a dark purple and have a grey cast to their skin

Possible lookalikes Other currants, though these are also edible and their flowers are often small and green coloured

Use as a food The flowers can be used to make a very interesting a beautifully flavoured cordial, sorbet, or syrup. They can also be sprinkled over savoury and sweet dishes.

The berries can be used to make jams, jellies, cordials, wine, syrup, fruit leather, and chutneys, but need more sugar than other currants

Use in herbal medicine Not used medicinally

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses None known

Hazards None known to author

Importance to other species Provides an important food source for pollinators, particularly bees

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

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