currant, northern shrub of the family Saxifragaceae ( saxifrage family), of the same genus ( Ribes ) as the gooseberry bush. The tart berries of the currant may be black, white, or red; the white gooseberry becomes purple when mature. Both, especially the larger European species, are eaten fresh and also used in preserves, sauces, and pies. Because the plants act as a host to blister rust , their cultivation in America is discouraged, and in regions of infection the wild species are eradicated. Native Americans used dried currants in making pemmican , but the dried currant of commerce is a small raisin. Indian currant is a name for a West Coast species and for the coralberry of the honeysuckle family. Native species of gooseberry are sometimes cultivated in gardens. Currant is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Saxifragaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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