Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
Aptly named Golden Currant blooms in early spring with showy clusters of small but fragrant bright yellow flowers. The blossoms are followed in summer by edible fruit that ripens from green through red to black. In autumn, green, lobed leaves turn to amber or scarlet before falling. The arching branches can reach anywhere from three to nine feet in height, depending on age and habitat.
Adapted to a enormously diverse range of conditions, Golden Currant can be found growing in grasslands or forests, sun or part shade, in damp soil along streams or on exposed rocky mountainsides up to about 8,500 feet in elevation. These plants seem to prefer sandy soils.
Because of their adaptability, Golden Currants are widely cultivated both here and in Europe, and should be easy to locate at a garden center. Various cultivars have been selected to maximize hardiness, flower color and density, and fruit size and flavor. The USDA describes ‘Crandall’ Golden Currants as “the North Country’s answer to Forsythia.”
Besides being a highly desirable landscape plant for Colorado gardens, these natives provide both food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener.