Flowers of the Native Shrub Red Currant (Ribes sanguineum).
Red Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is a Pacific Northwest native that was "discovered" by Archibald Menzies in 1793. In 1826, botanist David Douglas introduced it to British gardens where it has been widely cultivated. As a result, many varieties exist and the plant is readily available in better nurseries.

Red Currant's native habitat includes rocky, sunny lowland locations in the western Cascade Mountains and somewhat higher locations on the east side of the Cascades. It is common on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge at river level between Shellrock Mountain and Mitchell Point.

However, in the garden it will tolerate a wide variety of conditions. In my Portland garden it grows on the shady bank of a creek and blooms in mid March, bringing welcome color at the end of winter. It blooms well in the shade, although it tends become leggy there. After blooming, small dry fruits appear which are gradually consumed by birds. I've found the fruit to be edible, but quite seedy and not very flavorful.

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The Native Shrub Red Currant (Ribes sanguineum) Blooms in a Portland Garden.