Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Ribes cereum


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Marshall, K. Anna. 1995. Ribes cereum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : RIBCER SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : RICE RICEC2 RICEC RICEP COMMON NAMES : wax currant squaw currant whisky currant TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for wax currant is Ribes cereum Dougl. [19]. It is a member of the gooseberry family (Grossulariaceae). Kartesz [21] recognized the following three varieties: R. cereum var. cereum Dougl. (wax currant) R. cereum var. colubrinum C. L. Hitchc. (wax currant) R. cereum var. pedicellare Brewer & S. Wats. (whisky currant) LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : Ribes cereum var. colubrinum is listed as imperiled to critically imperiled in the state of Washington [52].


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The distribution of wax currant ranges from central and eastern British Columbia south to the Sierra Nevada, northern Arizona, and northern New Mexico [29,30,47]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir-spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES34  Chaparral-mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon-juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands STATES :      AZ  CA  CO  ID  MT  NM  NV  OR  UT  WA      WY  BC BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K007  Red fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub forest    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar-hemlock-pine forest    K014  Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce-fir forest    K018  Pine-Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce-fir forest    K022  Great Basin pine forest    K023  Juniper-pinyon woodland    K024  Juniper steppe woodland    K034  Montane chaparral    K037  Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K050  Fescue-wheatgrass    K051  Wheatgrass-bluegrass    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K063  Foothills prairie SAF COVER TYPES :    207  Red fir    208  Whitebark pine    209  Bristlecone pine    210  Interior Douglas-fir    211  White fir    215  Western white pine    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    219  Limber pine    220  Rocky Mountain juniper    237  Interior ponderosa pine    238  Western juniper    239  Pinyon-juniper    243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer    245  Pacific ponderosa pine    247  Jeffrey pine    248  Knobcone pine    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :    101  Bluebunch wheatgrass    102  Idaho fescue    104  Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass    105  Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue    106  Bluegrass scabland    107  Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass    109  Ponderosa pine shrubland    110  Ponderosa pine-grassland    208  Ceanothus mixed chaparral    209  Montane shrubland    210  Bitterbrush    302  Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass    304  Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass    311  Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass    312  Rough fescue-Idaho fescue    314  Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass    315  Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue    316  Big sagebrush-rough fescue    317  Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass    318  Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue    319  Bitterbrush-rough fescue    322  Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass    324  Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue    401  Basin big sagebrush    402  Mountain big sagebrush    403  Wyoming big sagebrush    404  Threetip sagebrush    405  Black sagebrush    406  Low sagebrush    409  Tall forb    411  Aspen woodland    412  Juniper-pinyon woodland    413  Gambel oak    415  Curlleaf mountain-mahogany    416  True mountain-mahogany    417  Littleleaf mountain-mahogany    418  Bigtooth maple    419  Bittercherry    420  Snowbrush    421  Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose    504  Juniper-pinyon pine woodland HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Wax currant occurs in open, coniferous forests, at forest edges, and in mountain shrub communities. In addition to the plant associations and cover types listed in preceding slots, wax currant occurs in the Bebb willow (Salix bebbiana) community type in the northwestern third of New Mexico [42].  In the Siskiyou and Cascade ranges and the Sierra Nevada, wax currant occurs with Baker's cypress (Cupressus bakeri) at several disjunct locations [13]. Species commonly associated with wax currant but not previously mentioned include sugar pine (P.  lambertiana), Washoe pine (P. washoensis) [6,7,27,29,34], Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum), sierra chinkapin (Castanopsis sempervirens), rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.), ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus), skunkbrush sumac (Rhus trilobata), white spiraea (Spiraea betulifolia), snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) [7,8,9,38,39], pine grass (Calamagrostis rubescens), Arizona festuce (Festuca arizonica), needlegrass (Stipa spp.), Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), sweetcicely (Osmorhiza berteroi), mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), Great Basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), white mountain sedge (Carex geophila), elk sedge (C. geyeri), and Ross' sedge (C. rossii) [6,7,24,35,39].


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Wax currant provides food and cover for wildlife [30].  It is only fair to poor browse for deer, but it is important on ranges where little else is available [28].  In Oregon, pocket gophers fed on wax currant during the dormant season (December - March).  Chickadees and other birds consume the fruit of wax currant [31]. Wax current is fair to poor browse for livestock [28]. PALATABILITY : The palatability of wax currant to livestock is rated as follows [12]:                            CO        MT       UT       WY   Cattle                    fair      poor     poor     fair Sheep                     good      fair     fair     good Horses                    fair     poor     poor     fair NUTRITIONAL VALUE : In north-central Colorado, the new annual growth of wax currant contained 5.6 percent crude protein.  Phosphorus and calcium concentrations were 0.23 and 0.85 percent, respectively [48]. COVER VALUE : Cover values for wax currant are as follows [12]:                         CO           UT            WY Pronghorn              ----         ----          fair Elk                ----     poor          poor Mule deer              ----     poor          fair White-tailed deer      ----         ----          fair Small mammals          fair         good          good Small nongame birds    fair         good          good Upland game birds      fair         fair          fair Waterfowl              ----         poor          poor VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The fruit of wax currant is used for making jam, jelly, or pie [30]. Some western Indian tribes used currants for making pemmican [28].  Wax currant is cultivated as an ornamental [30]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Wax currant is an alternate host for white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) which infests five-needled pines [29].  Because of its association with the rust, wax currant has been a target of various eradication studies [1,5,29].  Efforts to eradicate Ribes spp. have been unsuccessful and have not resulted in decreased rust infection [49]. In central Idaho, wax currant establishes after light ground scarification and thrives after thorough scarificication which induces germination and decreases the existing shrub cover [38,39,40].


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Wax currant is a native, deciduous, nonrhizomatous shrub growing from 1.65 to 4.95 feet (0.5-1.5 m) tall [30].  Its numerous branches are smooth-barked. The small, orbicular, three- to five-lobed leaves are 0.2 to 1 inch (0.5-2.5 cm) long and 0.28 to 2 inches (0.7-5 cm) wide [28,47].  Short-stalked, tubular flowers form drooping clusters [18,28]. Globose berries about 0.48 inch (1.2 cm) in diameter contain numerous seeds [20,28]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Wax currant reproduces mainly by seed.  Its ability to sprout from the root crown is described in the literature as "weak" [6,7,11].  In east-central Idaho, Peek and others [51] observed wax currant sprouting 2 years after a low-severity, prescribed fire. Shrubs of Ribes spp. begin fruiting after 3 years [1].  Seeds require scarification to germinate [38,39].  Many seeds fall beneath the parent plant; they are also dispersed by birds and mammals.  Fallen seeds remain viable in the soil and duff for many years [38,39].  Low-severity fire may promote germination of soil-stored seed [6,7,11,17]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Wax currant commonly occurs on dry, open slopes, ridges, and rock outcrops at elevations from 4,950 to 13,200 feet (1,500-4,000 m) [7,18,19,28,29]. Wax currant grows on a variety of substrates.  In Montana, wax currant grows in soils that range from sandy to clayey [8].  In Baker's cypress communities (California and Oregon), wax currant occurs on serpentine soils or on lava flows where only a superficial layer of soil has accumulated [13].  At Lava Beds National Monument in California, wax currant grows on rocky basalt lava flows [14]. Climate varies throughout the range of wax currant.  Lava Beds National Monument exhibits a modified maritime climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters.  Average annual precipitation is 13.6 inches (340 mm).  The daily mean high temperature in July is 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (27 deg C) and in January, the daily mean low temperature is 21.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 deg C) [43].  In the Cache la Poudre River drainage in Colorado, climate is characterized by cold winters and warm spring and summer months.  Mean annual precipitation is 14.92 inches (373 mm).  Most of the precipitation occurs between April and September. The mean temperature in January, the coldest month, is 26.1 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.3 deg C), and in July the mean temperature is 69.26 degrees Fahrenheit (20.7 deg C) [36]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Wax currant is shade intolerant [38,39].  Although it sometimes grows in open coniferous forests, it occurs most often and grows most vigorously on sites without forest canopy. In central Idaho, wax currant is considered an early seral species within Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) habitat types.  It is one of the first shrubs to dominate well-scarified sites but declines when a canopy taller than its own develops.  A few wax currant may remain present to the midseral stage.  Wax currant shrubs having relatively dense canopies provide favorable microsites for Douglas-fir seedlings [38,39]. In the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, Ribes spp. play an important role in secondary succession.  Their roots stabilize the soil, and their foliage may shelter fir (Abies spp.), spruce (Picea spp.), and western white pine (Pinus monticola) seedlings [26]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Wax currant flowers from April to June, and the fruit ripens by August [30,46].


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Wax currant regeneration is favored by short-duration, low-severity fire because soil-stored seed requires scarification to germinate.  Most wax currant plants are severely damaged or killed by fire.  The ability of wax currant to sprout after fire is described in the literature as "weak" [6,7,11]. Germination after severe fire is described for one site containing wax currant in the Stanislaus National Forest, California.  Except for two or three wax currant plants, all Ribes were R. roezli.  Ribes spp. developed more rapidly and fruited earlier on "intensely burned" areas than in partially burned thickets [32]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Shrub without adventitious-bud root crown    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire usually kills wax currant [6,7,11]. In Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, low-severity prescription fires conducted during the spring and fall of 1979 resulted in decreases in Ribes spp. during postfire years 1 and 2.  Weather conditions were as follows [3]:                 wind speed      temperature     relative                 mi/h (km/h)     deg F (deg C)   humidity (%) fall burn       10 (16)         58 (14.4)       45 spring burn      5 (8)          57 (13.9)       32 Prefire and postfire values for Ribes spp. on experimental (burned) and control (unburned) plots were as follows [3]:                                 Prefire         Postfire 1      Postfire 2 Number of plants (density)         experimental            299             112             73         control                  21              27             25 Mean max. height (cm)         experimental             34.6            18.4           25.3         control                  37.2            34.6*          41.0 Mean max. crown width (cm)         experimental             32.2            16.5           20.1         control                  33.9            37.4*          35.6* * indicates that value for control plot was significantly (p<.05)   greater than value for experimental plot.  DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Wax currant seedlings establish after fire.  After low-severity, prescribed fire in a California red fir (Abies magnifica) forest of King's Canyon National Park, California, wax currant seedlings established; there were no shrubs on the site before the fire [23].  In Stanislaus National Forest, California, a large and vigorous population of Ribes spp., including two or three wax currant plants, "promptly developed" after a 1.5-acre, human-caused fire in August of 1936 [32]. In Winema National Forest, Oregon, Burton and Black [10] reported the presence of wax currant in early, seral postfire vegetation dominated by annual and perennial grasses and annual forbs.  Prefire vegetation was characterized as a ponderosa pine/bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata)/needlegrass (Stipa occidentalis) community. In east-central Idaho, Peek and others [51] observed wax currant sprouting 2 years after a low-severity prescribed fire.  DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides information
on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including wax currant, that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In the Blacktail Hills of central Montana, the crude protein content of wax currant twigs and foliage increased by 4.2 to 9.8 percent after spring prescribed fires of varying fireline intensities [22]. In north-central Colorado, fire treatments applied with a flamegun during the growing season decreased the production of annual growth in wax currant for 2 years following treatment.  Treatments applied during the dormant season had little or no effect on wax currant production [48]. A wildfire burned through mixed pine-fir forests in the Sierra Nevada in 1960.  Effects of postfire treatments are described by Bock and others [5].  Little or no management action took place after fire on control plots.  On "plantation" plots, brush and dead trees were piled and burned, Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) seedlings were planted in postfire year 5, and herbicide was applied to kill shrubs in postfire years 11 and 12.  In postfire year 15, the plantation plots had a significantly greater (p<0.001) number of wax currant plants than the control plots. Shelter and food for wildlife and forage for livestock can be improved with prescribed fire in habitats where wax currant occurs.  Fire prescriptions for grasslands invaded by Douglas-fir in west-central and southwestern Montana are described [17].  Fire prescriptions for ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir communities in the Intermountain West are also described [50].


SPECIES: Ribes cereum
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