Ribes odoratum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: clove currant 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Grossulariaceae
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
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

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. 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.

The genus name Ribes is derived from the Arabic ribas, the name used for Rheum ribes (Syrian rhubarb), an unrelated, wild rhubarb species. European herbalists possibly connected the two due to the acidic flavor of the flowering stem of R. ribes, or the visually similar panicles of red fruits.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word odoratus meaning fragrant in reference to the clove-scented flowers.


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. Ten states currently maintain various types of bans on Ribes species plants. Contact your local Extension Service to verify if these plants can be grown in your area. Missouri has no restrictions. Notwithstanding state and local legislation, currants should not be planted in any area where the disease is prevalent (particularly the eastern United States).


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.