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Ribes /ˈrbz/[4] is a genus of about 150 known species of flowering plants native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the only genus in the family Grossulariaceae.

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 L.

(see text)

Grossulariaceae Distribution.svg
The range of Ribes
  • Grossularia Miller
  • Ribesium Medikus


Shrub like plants with marked diversity in strikingly diverse flowers and fruit.[5]


Ribes is the single genus in the Saxifragales family Grossulariaceae, although once included in the broader circumscription of Saxifragaceae s.l., it is now positioned as a sister group to Saxifragaceae s.s..[6]

First treated on a worldwide basis in 1907,[7] the infrageneric classification has undergone many revisions,[8] and even in the era of molecular phylogenetics there has been contradictory evidence.[5] Although sometimes treated as two separate genera, Ribes and Grossularia (Berger 1924)[9], 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.[8] Janczewski (1907) considered six subgenera and eleven sections.[7] Berger's twelve subgenera based on two distinct genera (see Senters & Soltis (2003) Table 1) have subsequently been demoted to sections.[6][5] 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.[10][11]

Taxonomy, according to Berger, modified by Sinnott (1985):[6][5]

  • 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. (Gooseberies) 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.[12][5] Early molecular studies suggested that subgenus Grossularia was actually embedded within subgenusRibes.[13] 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.[5]


About 150.[5][14]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Ribes is widely distributed through the Northern Hemisphere, and also extending south in the mountainous areas of South America.[5]


Ribes speciosum (fuchsia-flowered gooseberry)

The genus Ribes includes the edible currants (blackcurrant, redcurrant, white currant), the gooseberry, and several hybrid varieties. It should not be confused with the dried currant used in cakes and puddings, which is a small-fruited cultivar of grape (Zante currant). 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 useEdit

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. ^ Morin 2008.
  3. ^ Lu, Lingdi; Alexander, Crinan. "Ribes". Flora of China. 8 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  4. ^ "ribes". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Schultheis & Donoghue 2004.
  6. ^ a b c Messinger 1995.
  7. ^ a b Janczewski 1907.
  8. ^ a b Sinnott 1985.
  9. ^ Berger 1924.
  10. ^ Weigend et al 2002.
  11. ^ Weigend 2007.
  12. ^ Messinger et al 1999.
  13. ^ Senters & Soltis 2003.
  14. ^ Christenhusz & Byng 2016.
  15. ^ Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87842-359-0.


Books and thesesEdit



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