Ribes sanguineum

Ribes sanguineum Pursh (N-Am.) – A rare but much increasing escape from cultivation, locally becoming naturalised. First recorded in 1942 in Antwerpen-Linkeroever (Sint-Anna), later also in Herk (1951), Namur (1954), ‘s Gravenwezel (1966),… Most older records are merely relics from cultivation. The first doubtlessly natural occurrence possibly is from an old wall in Liège in 1989. In the past decades increasingly reported as being selfsown from numerous, widely scattered locations. Ribes sanguineum is particularly well-represented in coastal areas (shrubland in seadunes, under Pinus-plantations, etc.). It locally tends to become naturalised, for instance in Duinbos Klemskerke near De Haan (and doubtlessly elsewhere too). Identical behaviour was recently reported by van der Meijden (2005) for the Netherlands.

Ribes sanguineum is found in a wide range of man-made or more or less natural habitats: disused railway yards, urban wasteland, shrubland in seadunes, old walls,… Its exact ecological preferences require additional research.

Even in the non-flowering state, Ribes sanguineum is usually easily recognized by its densely glandular, very aromatic leaves (less obvious in older leaves). Contrary to many floras (especially those in its native area), the lowerside of leaves is not always densely pubescent and might even be glabrescent. The reduced leaf pubescence and scent in some cultivated forms possibly refers to cultivars and/or hybrids.

A hybrid with Ribes odoratum (R. xgordonianum Lemaire) is also frequently cultivated and has been claimed as an escape in Belgium as well but this requires confirmation. It has distinct, bi-coloured corollas that are yellow inside and red outside. Tebbitt (1995) erroneously gives a parentage of Ribes petraeum x R. sanguineum for this hybrid.

  De Panne, nature reserve Westhoek, coastal dunes, April 2009, W. VercruysseRibes sanguineum, De Haan, coastal woodland, August 2010, F. Verloove

RIbes sanguineum leaf

RIbes sanguineum flowerRIbes sanguineum fruit

Herbarium specimen of Ribes sanguineum


Selected literature

Adolphi K. (1997) Neophytische Kultur- und Anbaupflanzen als Kulturflüchtlinge des Rheinlandes, 1. Nachtrag. Osnabr. Naturwiss. Mitt. 23: 27-36.

Hoffman M.H.A. (1993) Ribes sanguineum. Dendroflora 30: 26-34.

Tebbitt M.C. (1995) Ribes. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 286-294.

Van der Meijden R. (2005) Heukels’ Flora van Nederland (23e druk). Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen: 685 p.

Verloove F. (2002) Ingeburgerde plantensoorten in Vlaanderen. Mededeling van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud n° 20: 227 p.

Williams P.A. (1984) Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) shrublands in the lower Waitaki Valley, South Canterbury. New Zealand J. Agric. Res. 27(3): 473-478.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith