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Matthew L Baker [2]

Shrubs, evergreen (not in Tas.) or deciduous, monoecious or dioecious (not in Tas.), erect or sometimes prostrate or climbing (not in Tas.); bark often exfoliating. Leaves alternate to spirally arranged, stipulate, petiolate, usually pubescent. Inflorescences racemose, usually pendulous. Flowers actinomorphic, (4)5-merous. Hypanthium distinct and usually persistent in fruit. Sepals erect, spreading or reflexed, often petaloid. Petals free, sometimes absent (not in Tas.), usually smaller than sepals, erect or spreading. Stamens 4–5; anthers 2-locular, longitudinally dehiscent. Ovary inferior to partially superior, 1-locular; styles 2. Fruit a berry, bearing a persistent perianth. Seeds small, numerous.

A monogeneric family (see generic account for species and distributional details). Grossulariaceae are placed in the Saxifragales. Some authors treat the family as comprising the woody Saxifragales or as part of the broadly defined Saxifragaceae (see Weigend 2006 & references cited therein).

Key references: Weigend et al. (2002); Weigend (2006).

External resources: accepted names with synonymy & distribution in Australia (APC); author & publication abbreviations (IPNI); mapping (AVH, NVA); nomenclature (APNI, IPNI).


Ribes L., Sp. Pl. 1: 200 (1753).

Synonymy: Grossularia Mill., Gard. Dict. edn 4 (1754).

Description as per family.

A genus of 150–200 species; native in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere and the Andes (South America). 2 species are naturalized in Australia; 1 species is naturalized in Tasmania. Several members of the genus are cultivated for their edible fruits, including R. rubrum L. and its hybrids (Redcurrants), R. nigrum L. and its hybrids (Blackcurrants), R. uva-crispa L. and its hybrids (Gooseberries) and hybrids such as the Currant-gooseberry crosses, eg. Jostaberries (R. nigrum x R. hirtellum Michx.). Crops of Blackcurrants are grown in the Derwent Valley, mainly for blackcurrant juice. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals.

Key references: Sykes & Garnock-Jones (1988); Lingdi & Alexander (2001); Spencer (2002); Weigend (2006).

1 * Ribes sanguineum Pursh, Fl. Amer. Sept. (Pursh) 164 (1814)

Flowering Currant

Illustrations: Sykes & Garnock-Jones, Flora of New Zealand 4: 743, fig. 73c (1988); Spencer, Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia 3: 44 (2002); Phillips & Rix, The Botanical Garden 1: 225 (2002).

Shrub to 2(–3) m tall; stems brown, with a mixture of sessile, glandular trichomes and fine simple hairs; bark on older stems exfoliating in strips. Leaves, spirally arranged, aromatic, with an indumentum of fine simple hairs and sessile and stalked glandular trichomes; stipules adnate to the petiole, membranous, with hairy glandular projections; petioles up to 6(–8) cm long, partially sheathing the stem, adaxially channelled in proximal 1/4, otherwise terete; lamina orbicular to broad ovate, 5–9.5 cm long, 4–11.5 cm wide, shallowly (3–)5-lobed, base cordate,2 of 3 adaxial surface green, abaxial surface pale green with veins conspicuously raised, whitish, margin entire, slightly recurved, apex rounded to sub-acute. Inflorescences pendulous racemes, 6–12 cm long, 7–30-flowered; bracts ovate to spathulate, up to 7 mm long, pale pink to reddish with scattered glandular and simple hairs; pedicels 5–11 mm long. Hypanthium 4–7 mm long, pale pink to reddish with scattered glandular and simple hairs. Sepals 5, elliptic to narrow-obovate, 4–5 mm long with similar colour and indumentum as hypanthium. Petals 5, white to reddish, spathulate, included within the calyx, 3–4 mm long, glabrous. Stamens 5; filaments to 2.5 mm long. Styles with two stigmatic branches. Fruit purplish black with white bloom, globose, 6–10 mm diam. Flowering Aug.-Nov.; fruiting Nov.-Mar.

Tas. (TSE); native of North America (N California to British Colombia), naturalized in New Zealand, British Isles. Introduced to Tasmania as an ornamental plant and naturalized only in the suburbs of Hobart but recorded elsewhere as a plant of cultivation (e.g. Queenstown, Cygnet). The species is associated with stream banks and roadsides. Several cultivars are listed, including double and white flowered forms. It is the single pink form that is encountered as a naturalized plant.

Ribes sanguineum resembles R. uva-crispa (Gooseberry), a species that has been recorded once in Tasmania and is naturalized, to a limited extent, in New South Wales and Victoria. Details regarding the Tasmanian specimen of R. uva-crispa are not sufficient to determine if it naturalized. Ribes uva-crispa can be distinguished from R. sanguineum as the former bears several short stiff spines at the nodes. Other species of cultivated Ribes including R. nigrum (Blackcurrant) and R. rubrum (Redcurrant) could be confused with R. sanguineum. The latter has pink to reddish (occasionally white) petals as opposed to green or greenish-white petals of the other currants. Fruits of Ribes are dispersed by birds. Ribes sanguineum was first recorded in Tasmania in 1978. Fruit characteristics and phenology in the above description are taken from Sykes and Garnock-Jones (1988).


APC (Australian Plant Census) http://www.chah.gov.au/apc/about-APC.html

APNI (Australian Plant Name Index) http://www.anbg.gov.au/cgi-bin/apni

AVH (Australia’s Virtual Herbarium) (Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria) http://www.anbg.gov.au/avh.html

IPNI (International Plant Name Index) http://www.ipni.org/index.html or http://www.us.ipni.org/index.html

Lingdi L, Alexander C (2001) Ribes. Flora of China 8 428–452. http://www.efloras.org

NVA (Natural Values Atlas) (Department of Primary Industries and Water: Hobart) http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/LJEM-6TV6TV?open

Phillips R, Rix M (2002) The Botanical Garden: 1 Trees and Shrubs. (Macmillan: London)

Spencer R (2002) Grossulariaceae. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia 3 38–45.

Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ (1988) Grossulariaceae. Flora of New Zealand 4 742–747.

Weigend M, Mohr O, Motley TJ (2002) Phylogeny and classification of the genus Ribes based on 5S-NTS sequences and morphological and anatomical data. Botanische Jahrbücher 124 163–182.

Weigend M (2007) Grossulariaceae. In K Kubitzki, C Bayer, PF Stevens (Eds) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants: IX Flowering Plants – Eudicots. pp. 168–176. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin)

NOTE: Web addresses can and do change: a list of current web addresses will be maintained on the Flora of Tasmania Online website [www.tmag.tas.gov.au/floratasmania].

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Blackcurrant 1, 2


Currant 1, 2

Currant-gooseberry 1


Flowering Currant 1


Gooseberry 1, 2

Grossularia 1

Grossulariaceae 1


Jostaberry 1


Redcurrant 1, 2

Ribes 1

Ribes hirtellum 1

Ribes nigrum 1, 2

Ribes nigrum x R. hirtellum 1

Ribes rubrum 1, 2

Ribes sanguineum 1

Ribes uva-crispa 1, 2


Saxifragaceae 1

Saxifragales 1

[1]This work can be cited as: Baker ML (2009) 50 Grossulariaceae, version 2009:1. In MF Duretto (Ed.) Flora of Tasmania Online. 3 pp. (Tasmanian Herbarium, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery: Hobart). ISBN 978-1-921599-09-5 (PDF). www.tmag.tas.gov.au/floratasmania

[2] Tasmanian Herbarium, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Private Bag 4, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.