The bright blossoms of Ribes sanguineum are a sign that spring has arrived. The red flowering currant has rosy red blossom clusters that cover a mature shrub in the spring, creating quite a show. Most of the spring colors are pastels, soft daffodil yellows, light cherry pinks, but this plant is bright and beautiful. Almost a summer color. The name Ribes means ‘acid tasting’ referring to the bitter fruit and sanguineum is like sangre or blood, referring to the flower color, blood red. The color can range from light pink to deep red.
The color reminds me of a bird I recently saw at the Woodland Park Zoo, the perfectly pink flamingo. I think it’s amazing that an animal can change it’s color according to what it eats. With their diet of crustaceans and algae, the flamingos take on these rosy hues. Can you imagine if we started to change color according to our diets? Would you become deep green like spinach? Neon green like Mountain Dew? Or various shades of brown like a chocolate chip cookie? Maybe that’s too much information to share with the world, we’ll stick to changing our hair color to express ourselves. What color would you be?
Just the Facts
Ribes sanguineum or Red Flowering Currant
Height: 3-9 feet, upright
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, five-lobed leaves, young growth hairy
Flowers: White to pink to deep red. Erect or drooping.
Fruits: Blue-black round berries, unpalatable.
Habitat: Dry open woods, disturbed sights.
Native in the Pacific Northwest