Ribes nigrum L.
An unarmed shrub 5 or 6 ft high, distinguished by its peculiar odour, due to small yellowish glands sprinkled freely over the lower surface of the leaf, which is conspicuously three-lobed, deeply notched at the base, long stalked, coarsely toothed. Flowers bell-shaped, dull white, in racemes, each flower from the axil of a minute bract. Fruits black.
Native of Europe and Siberia, possibly of Britain. Several varieties of this species – so well known as the “black currant” of fruit gardens – have been distinguished. The two first mentioned are curious and interesting, but no others are worth cultivating as ornamental shrubs:
cv. ‘Dissectum’. – Leaves very curiously cut, each of the three lobes reaching back to the stalk, and again bipinnately lobed (R. nigrum var. dissectum Bean, probably the same as R. nigrum f. apiifolia Kirchn.).
cv. ‘Laciniatum’. – The three primary lobes reaching nearly or quite to the stalk, and pinnately lobed.
cv. ‘Reticulatum Aureum’. – Leaves mottled thickly with yellow. This or a similar variant was described by Mouillefert under the name R. nigrum marmoratum.
R. × culverwellii Macfarlane R. × schneideri Koehne – A hybrid between the black currant and the gooseberry. The typical form of the cross was raised by William Culverwell of Thorpe Perrow, Yorks, about 1880; it is a spineless shrub, and has flowers like the black currant, but the foliage and inflorescence are more suggestive of the gooseberry. An interesting curiosity, of no value either for fruit or for ornament. The Culverwell cross had the black currant as the seed-parent, but the type of R. × schneideri, of German origin and of the same parentage, was raised from the gooseberry pollinated by the black currant.