American black currant is a thornless, erect native shrub with showy yellow flowers in early spring followed by edible black berries in mid-summer. Excellent for moist shady sites.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Edible fruit,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Showy fruit,
- Showy flowers,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- mid spring,
- late summer,
- early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Tree & Plant Care
Plant in full sun to part shade for best fruit production.
Plants become spindly in too much shade.
Best in moist soil. Plants will show signs of stress in dry, hot sites.
Disease, pests, and problems
Leaf spots, rust, cane blights
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Occurs in moist woods and floodplain of the upper Midwest.
Attracts birds & butterflies
Fruits are eaten by many birds and other wildlife.
Bark color and texture
Older stems develop ridges from leaf scars, twigs are pale brown with golden colored glands.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, 2 1/2 inch long leaves with 3 to 5 lobes. Leaf margins are single to double toothed. A medium green with resin dots on upper surface, hairy veins beneath with golden resin dots.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Bright yellow-green flowers hang in 2 to 3 inch clusters in early to mid-spring.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
A short-lived, dark purple, 1/4-inch berry ripens in mid-summer and hangs in chain-like clusters along the stem.