(Ribes nigrum)

 A Shrub of black currant


Family:  Grossulariaceae

SynonymsRibes nigrum var chlorocarpum, Ribes olidum

Black currant is believed to be a native of Finland.  The shrubs of this fruit has a characteristic smell.  In fact non-fruiting black currant shrubs, which otherwise look quite similar to those of red currants, can be distinguished from red current shrubs by the presence of this smell in leaves.

Leaves of black currant

             The demand for black currant fruits has greatly increased during the recent years after it these have been found to be rich source of anti oxidants.  On account of this, ome marketers promote black currant as a “sperfruit”. 


A medium sized shrub, growing to 1.5 metres  by 1.5 metres .

 Leaves alternate, simple, 3 to 5 cm, broad and long with five palmate lobes and a serrated margin, strongly aromatic.

Black currant flowers

 Flowers borne on 8 cm long racemes  each containing 10 to 20 flowers; flower 7-9 mm wide, calyx hairy with yellow glands, the five lobes of which are longer than the inconspicuous petals;  stamens 5, surrounding the stigma and style and two fused carpelsflowers open in succession from the base of the strig, mostly insect pollinated.

Fruit a fleshy berry, up to 1 cm in diameter, very dark purple in colour, almost black, with a glossy skin and a persistent calyx at the apex.

Seeds small, many.


The fruits are used raw as well as cooked.  They are very rich in vitamin C containing about 100 mg of this vitamin in 100 g pulp. The nutritive value of black currant berries is given in the table below:

Nutritional value of black currant fruits  per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy264 kJ (63 kcal)
Carbohydrates15.4 g
Fat0.4 g
Protein1.4 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.05 mg (4%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.05 mg (4%)
Niacin (vit. B3)0.3 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.398 mg (8%)
Vitamin B60.066 mg (5%)
Vitamin C181 mg (218%)
Vitamin E1 mg (7%)
Calcium55 mg (6%)
Iron1.54 mg (12%)
Magnesium24 mg (7%)
Manganese0.256 mg (12%)
Phosphorus59 mg (8%)
Potassium322 mg (7%)
Sodium2 mg (0%)
Zinc0.27 mg (3%)

            Besides being eaten fresh, the black currant fruits are put to several culinary uses.  This is because of their aroma.  These are also made into various alcoholic preparations like wines and liquors in Europe.

Fruits of black currant

            The leaves of this fruit are are also used as tea.

Fruit drink made from black currant

            According to herbalists, the small fruits of black currant have many useful medicinal properties.


Black currants grow best on fertile, damp but not water logged soils.  They cannot withstand drought.

Black currant cordial

            New plants are mostly raised from the seeds.  Some nurseries also sell named varieties of black currants.