Common Name: clove currant
Type: Deciduous shrub
Native Range: Central United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil
Best grown in organically rich, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained clay or silt loams in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun. Some part afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates, but fewer flowers and fruits are usually produced in part shade conditions. Tolerates poor soils and drought. Apply a good compost mulch to the root zone. Prefers consistent and even moisture. Avoid overhead watering. Renewal prune in late winter to early spring each year as needed. Younger branches generally produce the most fruit. If fruit production is a concern, older, weakened and/or damaged branches should be removed to open up the bush and promote more abundant fruiting. Propagate by cuttings or seed. Plants may spread by root suckers to form clumps if suckers are not removed.
Ribes odoratum, commonly called clove currant, is a thornless, loosely-branched, irregularly-shaped, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 6-8’ tall and as wide. It is native to slopes, rocky bluffs and streambanks from Minnesota and South Dakota south to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In Missouri, it is primarily found on limestone bluffs along the Current and White Rivers. It has been widely planted in the eastern U.S. where it has escaped gardens and naturalized.
Ovate to rounded, medium green to bluish-green, 3-5 lobed leaves turn dull yellow in fall. Golden yellow trumpet-shaped flowers appear in racemes in spring and emit a strong clove-like fragrance. This is a monoecious shrub. Flowers give way to drooping clusters of large, oval-rounded, shiny black currants which ripen in late season (July in St. Louis). Fruit can be eaten raw from the shrub or made into juices, jams, jellies, tarts and pies.
Ribes odoratum is very closely related to Ribes aureum, and is now being listed in some references as Ribes aureum var. villosum.
Genus name comes from the Danish word ribs meaning red currant.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word odoratus meaning fragrant in reference to the clove-scented flowers.
No serious insect or disease problems. In wet, humid conditions, anthracnose, powdery mildew and fungal leaf spots can be troublesome. Susceptible to honey fungus. Also susceptible to blight, currant aphid, scale, currant bud mite and currant fruit fly. Aphids, scale and bud mite are potential pests in some areas.
Although much less so than with black currants (Ribes nigrum), clove currants are an alternative host for white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), a usually fatal disease for white pines. Fifteen (15) States currently maintain various types of bans on Ribes species plants, the most restrictive being the total ban on all Ribes plants in North Carolina. Missouri has no restrictions. Notwithstanding state and local legislation, currants should not be planted in any area where the disease is prevalent (particularly the East and Northwest). In areas where the disease is not prevalent (such as Missouri), it is still best to avoid planting currants in locations where white pines are growing unless rust-immune cultivars are used.
Although this shrub can appear somewhat unkempt as it ages, the aromatic flowers, edible fruits and summer foliage provide good ornamental value and tasty fruit. Group in shrub borders, open woodland areas or near patios. Informal hedge or screen. Background plant for native plant gardens. Wildlife habitat.