An Ornamental Currant that Vines
Photo by Melody

An Ornamental Currant that Vines

By Larry Rettig (LarryR)May 10, 2010
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With edible landscaping becoming more popular, it's time to get acquainted with the Clove Currant Vine. Not only does it have clusters of beautiful yellow flowers tinged frequently with red centers (see photo below), it is also fragrant (as its name implies) and bears edible fruit. In fall its leaves turn a bright golden with red highlights. Even if you don't grow this plant for its edibility, it puts on such a show and is so fragrant that it deserves a special place in your garden.

Gardening picture

C 
 
urrants (Ribes odorata) that vine are somewhat unusual and, as far as I can tell, rather rare.  The currants with which many of us are familiar grow on bushes and bear red, white, or black berries.  Growing up in a German settlement in eastern Iowa, I became acquainted with a vining variety, which is said to have been brought from Germany to the U.S. by the settlers of our villages back in the mid-1800s.  They were and still are grown on large trellises that support vines as long as 10 to 12 feet.

Vining Clove Currrant-Amana Colonies
Clove Currant Vine in an Iowa village settled
by German immigrants
 'Crandall'
Clove Currant 'Crandall' espaliered on author's
fence
 
Back in Germany, these vining currants were often grown in vineyards and used to flavor wines.  The vines become woody with age and, like grapes, can be trained to grow horizontally along wires.  When grown on a trellis, the vines may need to be tied to it occasionally.  Unlike grapes, they don't have tendrils with which to attach themselves to a support.

I've searched long and hard to find a source for the European vining cultivar, but have come up empty-handed.  My next move was to find a readily available variety that I might be able to train as a vine, so that I could recommend it to fellow gardeners who, in turn, would be able to appreciate this wonderful vine as I have.  I'm happy to say that I found one!  High Country Gardens sells a native black currant, Ribes odoratum, 'Crandall'.  I ordered a plant two years ago that was about a foot tall when I planted it.  Lacking an arbor, I decided to espalier it on a picket fence.  The longest vine already measures over six feet and has put out eight inches of new growth so far this spring.

If you're a gardener who likes oo's and ah's from visitors to your garden--and what gardener doesn't--this vine is a must-have.

Please note:  After publication of this article, I became aware that planting black currants may be illegal in some states (http://urbanext.illinois.edu/ShrubSelector/detail_plant.cfm?PlantID=431).  Please check with the appropriate extension office in your state to make sure you can plant Ribes odoratum.

 

 


At a Glance
 

Hardiness Zones 4-8 
Soil Any, except hard clay
Light Full sun, part sun
Moisture Will adapt 
Vine length  10-12+ feet
Foliage Deciduous, red and yellow in fall 
Flowers Yellow with red center, fragrant
Bloom time Spring
Fruit Edible, showy
black berries ripen
in fall
 
AttractsBirds, butterflies
Tolerances Deer, drought  
Maintenance Low  
Propagation Hardwood cuttings in
winter
 


Questions?  Comments?  Please use the form below.  I enjoy hearing from my readers! 

 


         Black Currant Jam

1.5 pounds black currants
1.5 pounds sugar
1.5 pints of water
1 small plate, refrigerated

Remove all the stalks from the currants and put in a large, deep saucepan. Add the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Lower the heat and add sugar, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a rapid boil and boil for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Check for doneness by spooning a small amount onto the cold plate and leave it to cool briefly. Push the edge of the jam in with your finger. If the surface wrinkles it is ready. If not, leave to boil for a minute or two longer.
When ready, remove from the heat and skim off any foam on the surface. Leave to cool for 5 or 10 minutes before pouring into sterilized jam jars. Seal immediately and leave to cool completely before attaching labels.

This recipe makes approximately 4 small jars of jam.

© Larry Rettig 2010

 


  About Larry Rettig  
Larry RettigAn enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and itís still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/LarryR/. Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.

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» Read articles about: Perennial Flowers, Currants, North American Native Plants, Garden History, Vines, Heirloom Plants, Fragrant Plants And Flowers, Drought-tolerant Plants

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
A shrub, not a vine TheLoud 6 76 May 12, 2010 1:41 PM
clove currant vine marimum 1 35 May 10, 2010 7:56 PM
Caution janisbeth 1 130 May 10, 2010 2:08 PM
your currant vine damageddonut 2 75 May 10, 2010 1:55 PM
cold hours? annhelen 1 34 May 10, 2010 1:34 PM
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