PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Black Currant ‘Crandall’ (Ribes odoratum)

Currants usually come in one of two forms, the beautiful ones and the tasty ones. In the PNW, Red Flowering Currant is one of our top native beauties with its blaze of fuchsia pinkish red blooms in early spring, but its fruit is for the birds. Then there are the fruiting currants, available in black, red, pink, and white which are incredibly flavorful and packed with nutrition, but have dramatically unshowy flowers. ‘Crandall’, however, has it all.

‘Crandall’ Currant is a black currant with 3/8″ berries that ripens in July. The berries start out in May as long, brilliant yellow, tubular blooms which cover the stems from top to bottom for several weeks. The blooms have a lovely floral perfume with a distinct clove-like top note and the scent can be enjoyed from 10 feet away. Hummingbirds love it.

The berries carry an interesting flavor too. The same floral/clove quality hits the tongue first but disappears as soon as you notice it, then the berry tastes like a standard black currant. Black currants taste very different from red, pink, and white currants, with an earthier, deeper, flavor reminiscent of dark cherry, black raspberry, and serviceberry all combined. All currants are highly nutritious with vitamins and antioxidants, but black currants are one of the world’s champions in this department.

All currants like some sun and some shade, but appreciate the balance tipped in favor of shade. They get really cranky when the weather gets warm and sunny. Their happy place is the cool and wet weather of spring and autumn. They grow to about 3-4 feet tall and wide. Prune off the oldest crusty, scaly looking branches every couple of years.