Ribes cereum Douglas
Also Called: Western red currant.
Flowering Period: May, June
Family: Gooseberry ( Grossulariaceae )
Height: up to 6'
Life Span: Shrub
Stems: Twigs tan to red-brown.
Leaves: alternate, mostly broadly fan-shaped, from quite Hairless to downy and often copiously stalked-glandular on both surfaces, usually 1.5-2.5 cm broad and commonly shallowly 3- or 5-lobed and closely blunt-toothed.
Flowers: Can be white, pink, or light yellow. About 2-8 in clusters on short stalks, the entire cluster usually both finely short-hairy and sticky with short- stalked glands. Flower stalks shorter than the bracts. The calyx greenish-white to pink-tinged, from nearly hairless to short-hairy as well as stalked-glandular, nearly cylindric, 6-8 mm long, the 5 lobes spreading-bent back, 1.5-3 mm long. The 5 petals 1-2 mm long, equaling to considerably exceeding the 5 stamens. Anthers 0.7-1.5 mm long, oval, tipped with a small cup-shaped gland. Styles sometimes joined nearly or quite to the stigmas.
Fruits: Bright red to yellow-red, waxy berries, ovoid, 6-8 mm long, sparingly glandular, unpalatable.The berries are edible raw or cooked. However, large quantities consumption can cause nausea. Seeds numerous, albuminous, matures July to August.
Habitat: Rocky woodlands
Distribution: Foothills, montane, subalpine. Colorado Distribution Map
Reproduction: Can be propagated from seed and cuttings.
Uses: The plant was used medicinally by the Okanagan-Colville, Shoshoni and Thompson Indians. An infusion of the inner bark was used as a wash for sore eyes. The fruit was sometimes eaten in quantity to induce vomiting. It has also been used to treat diarrhea.
Comments: The genus name, Ribes, is derived from the Danish word "ribs" for the red currant; the species name, cereum, refers to the waxy fruit.