In the rich, alluvial black soil of lowland woods, the wild black currant in April hangs out its chains of bright yellow bells with their pleasant fragrance of cloves. It is one of those special sights of spring the wild currant bush with its new, perfect, heart-shaped, pleated young leaves and its drooping racemes of scented, bright gold Sowers.
Ribes americanum Mill.
The blossoms are bell-shaped with five recurving petal divisions and stiff yellow and white stamens and pistil within. The flowers are placed alternately along the thin, weak, downy stem which springs from the axils of the secondary new branches and leaf-axils.
The fruits of wild black currant are purplish black and edible, though they arc Ear more tasty when cooked than when they are eaten raw. They are smooth and thick-skinned, hang in the same clusters as the flowers did - from gold to purple, it is just a matter of a few weeks from one to the other. The fruits when crushed have some of that faint odor of skunk which is inexplicably found in certain other members of the genus Ribes.
The Arabs knew currants. It was they who gave them the name of Ribes, which was derived from an Arabic word meaning "fruit with acid juice".