Ribes aureum

Golden currant


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Rosales. Family - Grossulariaceae (Currant family). Genus -Ribes L. Species - Ribes aureum Pursh.

Ecology: Golden currant occurs in grassland, coniferous forests and woodlands, and riparian and mountain shrub communities. 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).


General: Erect to spreading, unarmed, glabrous shrubs 1-3 m. tall; branches reddish when young, becoming dark gray with age.

Leaves: Leaves alternate, petiolate, pale green, the blades broadly deltoid-ovate to ovate, 2-5 cm. broad, palmately 3-lobed less than half their length, the segments entire or with 2-5 rounded teeth.

Flowers: Flowers fragrant, 5-18 in ascending or reflexed racemes usually longer than the leaves; pedicels up to 8 mm. long; calyx tube cylindric, 6-8 mm. long, the 5 lobes oblong-elliptic, spreading, 5-7 mm. long, the lobes and tube golden yellow; petals 5, small, yellow to reddish, oblong-obovate, erect; stamens 5, alternate with and equal to the petals; styles 2, fused almost to the stigmas, glabrous, about equal to the calyx lobes; ovary inferior.

Fruits: Berry globose, glabrous, about 7 mm. long, orange or occasionally burgundy.


Fire: 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. 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.


Vegetation Reproduction: Golden currant reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes; it sprouts after cutting and fire. Plants can also be grown from cuttings. Ribes spp. begin fruiting after 3 years.

Seed Production and Dissemination: 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. Seed germination is generally enhanced by scarification.

Flowers: Golden currant flowers from early spring to June.

Seedling establishment: Golden currant seedlings may establish after fire, and golden currant probably sprouts from surviving rhizomes after low- to moderate-severity fire.

Species Distribution


E-Flora of British Columbia
In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2015. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 10/02/2017 9:38:11 AM ]

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Distribution Map photo Credit

USFS Plant Database
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).

Jepson Flora Project
2017. Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange fpr California Floristics . University of California, Berkeley

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2017. Ribes aureum [online]. University of Washington.
Photo credit: 2005, Ben Legler, 2007, 2010, G. D. Carr