Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Marshall, K. Anna. 1995. Ribes aureum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Ribes odoratum H. Wendl. 
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
fragrant golden currant
The currently accepted scientific name for golden currant is Ribes
aureum Pursh . It is a member of the gooseberry family
(Grossulariaceae). Kartesz  recognizes the following three
Ribes aureumvar. aureum Pursh (golden currant)
Ribes aureumvar. gracillimum (Coville & Britt.) Jepson (golden currant)
Ribes aureumvar. villosum DC. (fragrant golden currant, buffalo currant)
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
The distribution of golden currant ranges from British Columbia east to
Saskatchewan, south to western Nebraska, Colorado, and northwestern
Texas, west to Los Angeles, California, and north to the eastern slopes
of the Cascade Range [11,21,22,23,30].
Golden currant is native to the West, but it has been cultivated and
has naturalized in the East . The distribution of Ribes aureum var.
villosum, formerly Ribes odoratum [18,24], ranges from Minnesota east to
Michigan south through Tennessee to Arkansas, west to Texas, and north
through Colorado to South Dakota [18,52]. The distribution of R. aureum
var. villosum is not considered in the ecosystems, plant associations,
and cover types listed here because information is lacking.
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands
AZ AR CA CO ID IL IN IA KS KY
MI MN MO MT NE NV NM ND OK OR
SD TN TX UT WA WI WY AB BC SK
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
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
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K022 Great Basin pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K030 California oakwoods
K034 Montane chaparral
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-three-awn shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
SAF COVER TYPES :
210 Interior Douglas-fir
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
222 Black cottonwood-willow
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
256 California mixed subalpine
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
203 Riparian woodland
207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral
208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral
209 Montane shrubland
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
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
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Golden currant occurs in grassland, coniferous forests and woodlands,
and riparian and mountain shrub communities [12,19,54].
In addition to the plant associations and cover types listed in
preceding slots, golden currant occurs in the alluvial scrub vegetation
of the San Gabriel River floodplain  and in central coast riparian
forest  in California. In the Malheur National Forest, Oregon,
golden currant is a member of the Mackenzie willow (Salix rigida var.
mackenzieana) riparian dominance type; associated species include Wood's
rose (Rosa woodsii), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratense), smooth brome
(Bromus inermis), meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum), and redtop
(Agrostis alba) .
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
In Logan, Utah, golden currant twigs and foliage were browsed May 31 to
August 1 by captive deer .
The fruit of Ribes spp. is a valuable food source for songbirds,
chipmunks, ground squirrels, and other animals .
The palatability of golden currant to livestock is rated as follows
CO MT ND UT WY
Cattle poor poor ---- good fair
Sheep fair fair ---- good fair
Horses poor poor ---- poor poor
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Currants (Ribes spp.) contain high concentrations of mono- and
COVER VALUE :
Cover values for golden currant are as follows :
CO MT UT WY
Pronghorn ---- ---- poor poor
Elk ---- ---- poor poor
Mule deer ---- poor fair fair
White-tailed deer ---- ---- ---- fair
Small mammals fair poor good good
Small nongame birds poor poor good good
Upland game birds ---- poor good fair
Waterfowl ---- ---- poor poor
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Golden currant can be used to revegetate roadsides and disturbed areas
[9,10,40,50]. In Alpine County, California, container-grown golden
currant seedlings were planted on mine spoils. The average percent
survival of golden currant seedlings was 91 percent after 1 year and 77
percent after 2 years . Schroeder  rated golden currant high
in hardiness, low in soil requirements, and medium in growth rate.
Plummer and others  rated the suitability of golden currant for
restoring rangeland in Utah as follows:
initial establishment good
growth rate good
germination medium to fair
seed production medium to fair
ease of planting very good
natural spread good
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
The fruit of golden currant is used for making jam, jelly, and pie .
Some western Indian tribes used currants (Ribes spp.) for making
pemmican . Golden currant is cultivated as an ornamental .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Golden currant is an alternate host for white pine blister rust
(Cronartium ribicola) which infests five-needled pines . Because of
their association with the rust, Ribes spp. have been targets of various
eradication efforts [3,29,31]; however, these efforts have had some
success only in the Great Lake States .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Golden currant is a native, deciduous, rhizomatous shrub  growing
from 3.3 to 10 feet (1-3 m) tall. Its numerous, stiff, erect branches
are smooth-barked. The orbicular, three-lobed (three- to five-lobed for
Ribes aureum var. villosum) leaves are 0.24 to 1.9 inch (0.6-4.7 cm)
long and 0.4 to 2.7 inches (1-6.7 cm) wide. Drooping racemes are five-
to fifteen-flowered. Globose berries, 0.24 to 0.36 inch (6-9 mm) in
diameter, contain numerous seeds [11,15,19,22].
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Golden currant reproduces vegetatively and by seed.
Golden currant reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes [8,50]; it sprouts
after cutting and fire . Plants can also be grown from cuttings
Ribes spp. begin fruiting after 3 years . Many seeds fall beneath
the parent plant; they are also dispersed by birds and mammals. Fallen
seeds may remain viable in the soil and duff for many years [45,46].
Seed germination is generally enhanced by scarification [1,45,46];
however, 63 percent germination was obtained in the laboratory by
stratifying golden currant seeds at 28 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.2
and 2.2 deg C) for 60 days without scarification .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Golden currant has wide ecological amplitude. It commonly occurs on
floodplains, along streams, in ravines and washes, by springs, and on
mountain slopes [15,19,23,30,50]. Golden currant grows on fine- to
course-textured loam soil [5,14,33] at elevations up to 8,000 feet
(2,400 m) [9,15,33,54].
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Golden currant is somewhat shade tolerant. On the Pine Ridge
escarpments in northwestern Nebraska, golden currant grows in open,
scattered, and dense pine stands . In Minnesota, where fragrant
golden currant occurs, very dense balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and
northern whitecedar (Thuja occidentalis) overstories suppress Ribes spp.
. In riparian vegetation throughout their range, Ribes spp. often
constitute an important part of the shrub cover. They are only
occasionally shaded out by dense thickets of taller shrubs .
In western coniferous forests, Ribes spp. are early seral species,
sometimes persisting into the midseral stage [29,45,46]. In the
Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, roots of Ribes spp. stabilize the soil
after disturbance, and foliage may shelter fir (Abies spp.), spruce
(Picea spp.), and western white pine (Pinus monticola) seedlings .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Golden currant flowers from early spring to June [11,50]. In the
Intermountain region, seeds mature from mid-July to mid-August .
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Severe fire that consumes the entire organic mantle probably kills
golden currant and may destroy soil-stored seeds . Golden currant
may survive low- to moderate-severity fire by sprouting from rhizomes
[8,11]. Golden currant regeneration is probably favored by low- to
moderate-severity fire because germination of soil-stored seed is
generally enhanced by scarification in Ribes spp. [1,8,29,45,46].
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in
which this species may occur by entering the species name in the
FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Fire top-kills or kills golden currant.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Golden currant seedlings may establish after fire, and golden currant
probably sprouts from surviving rhizomes after low- to moderate-severity
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., including fragrant golden currant, during postfire years
1 and 2. Weather conditions were as follows :
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
The origin of golden currant on postfire plots (seedling or sprout) was
not described. Prefire and postfire values for Ribes spp. on
experimental (burned) and control (unburned) plots were as follows :
Prefire Postfire yr 1 Postfire yr 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.
In Nevada County, California, the Donner Ridge Wildfire "completely
razed" a pine (Pinus spp.)-fir forest [6,7]. Golden currant was
observed growing on the site in postfire year 8. It is not clear
whether golden currant had sprouted or established from seed. Other
members of the postfire vegetation community included mules ears
(Wyethia mollis), mahala mat (Ceanothus prostratus), greenleaf
manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula), rabbitbrush goldenweed (Haplopappus
bloomeri), and young Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) and lodgepole pine
(P. contorta) which had germinated after the fire .
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
SPECIES: Ribes aureum
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