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Ribes divaricatum 5391.JPG
Ribes divaricatum (spreading gooseberry)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Grossulariaceae
Genus: Ribes
Type species
Ribes rubrum
About 200 species
Grossulariaceae Distribution.svg
Distribution of Ribes species
  • Grossularia Miller
  • Ribesium Medikus

Ribes /ˈrbz/[5] is a genus of about 200 known species of flowering plants native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.[2] The various species are known as currants or gooseberries, and some are cultivated for their edible fruit or as ornamental plants. Ribes is the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae.


Shrub like plants with marked diversity in strikingly diverse flowers and fruit.[6]


Ribes is the single genus in the Saxifragales family Grossulariaceae. Although once included in the broader circumscription of Saxifragaceae sensu lato, it is now positioned as a sister group to Saxifragaceae sensu stricto.[7]


First treated on a worldwide basis in 1907,[8] the infrageneric classification has undergone many revisions,[9] and even in the era of molecular phylogenetics there has been contradictory evidence.[6] Although sometimes treated as two separate genera, Ribes and Grossularia (Berger 1924),[10] the consensus has been to consider it as a single genus, divided into a number of subgenera, the main ones of which are subgenus Ribes (currants) and subgenus Grossularia (gooseberries), further subdivided into sections.[9] Janczewski (1907) considered six subgenera and eleven sections.[8] Berger's twelve subgenera based on two distinct genera (see Senters & Soltis (2003) Table 1) have subsequently been demoted to sections.[7][6] Weigend (2007) elevated a number of sections to produce a taxonomy of seven subgenera; Ribes (sections Ribes, Heretiera, Berisia) Coreosma, Calobotrya (sections Calobotrya, Cerophyllum), Symphocalyx, Grossularioides, Grossularia, Parilla.[11][12]

Taxonomy, according to Berger, modified by Sinnott (1985):[7][6]

  • Subgenus Ribes L. (currants) 8 sections
    • Section Berisia Spach (alpine currants)
    • Section Calobotrya (Spach) Jancz. (ornamental currants)
    • Section Coreosma (Spach) Jancz. (black currants)
    • Section Grossularioides ( Jancz.) Rehd. (spiny or Gooseberry-stemmed currants)
    • Section Heritiera Jancz. (dwarf or skunk currants)
    • Section Parilla Jancz. (Andine or South American currants)
    • Section Ribes L. (red currants)
    • Section Symphocalyx Berland. (golden currants)
  • Subgenus Grossularia (Mill.) Pers. (Gooseberries) 4 sections
    • Section Grossularia (Mill.) Nutt.
    • Section Robsonia Berland.
    • Section Hesperia A.Berger
    • Section Lobbia A. Berger

Some authors continued to treat Hesperia and Lobbia as subgenera.[13][6] Early molecular studies suggested that subgenus Grossularia was actually embedded within subgenus Ribes.[14] Analysis of combined molecular datasets confirms subgenus Grossularia as a monophyletic group, with two main lineages, sect. Grossularia and another clade consisting of glabrous gooseberies, including Hesperia, Lobbia and Robsonia. Other monophyletic groups identified were Calobotrya, Parilla, Symphocalyx and Berisia. However sections Ribes, Coreosma and Heritiera were not well supported. Consequently, there is insufficient resolution to justify further taxonomic revision.[6]


There are around 200 species of Ribes.[2] Selected species include:

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)
Redcurrant (Ribes rubrum)

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Ribes is widely distributed through the Northern Hemisphere, and also extending south in the mountainous areas of South America.[6]


Ribes speciosum (fuchsia-flowered gooseberry)

The genus Ribes includes the edible currants: blackcurrant, redcurrant and white currant, as well as the European gooseberry Ribes uva-crispa and several hybrid varieties. It should not be confused with the dried currants used in cakes and puddings, which are from the Zante currant, a small-fruited cultivar of the grape Vitis vinifera. Ribes 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 the main alternate host for white pine blister rust.

Historical use[edit]

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.[15]


Currants are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (see List of Lepidoptera that feed on currants).


  1. ^ APG IV 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Ribes L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  3. ^ Morin 2008.
  4. ^ Lu, Lingdi; Alexander, Crinan. "Ribes". Flora of China. 8 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  5. ^ "ribes". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Schultheis & Donoghue 2004.
  7. ^ a b c Messinger 1995.
  8. ^ a b Janczewski 1907.
  9. ^ a b Sinnott 1985.
  10. ^ Berger 1924.
  11. ^ Weigend et al 2002.
  12. ^ Weigend 2007.
  13. ^ Messinger et al 1999.
  14. ^ Senters & Soltis 2003.
  15. ^ Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.


Books and theses[edit]



External links[edit]

Media related to Ribes at Wikimedia Commons