The word Currant also refers to the plant which bears the fruits Anthropod
mentioned. Currants are found in the genus Ribes
, along with gooseberries
(the prominent difference being that gooseberries bear thorns and currants do not). Currants are found in many temperate areas of the world, including Europe
and North America
. My native region of California
One of the distinguishing charactaristics of the currants in California is that they sometimes bloom in the early fall, before the rains. Everything else on the hillside will be dead or dormant, and the currants will be covered in pink or white flowers. This plant takes a big gamble that fall rains will come, because if they don't, and the plant invests all its energy and water on flowering, it could die. But the rewards are also great: this is a desperately bleak time for pollinators, and this plant will be visited by any hummingbird or bee in the area when it first flowers. For this reason, it also is vitally important to these animals that currants are found in the area.
Currants, in California, are found in wet areas such as north-facing hillsides or riparian valleys. In addition to providing nectar to pollenators in the fall, they also produce the succulent red berries noted in Anthropod's node, which are an important food source to many animals, including some humans.
Currants have a thin, irregular form, but are quite beautiful when covered in flowers or berries; for this reason they would probably make a good landscape plant. They would do well in an area that gets a small amount of extra water, but is not irrigated excessively in summer. Keep in mind, however, that this genus has been known to carry the Sudden Oak Death pathogen, so it is probably not a good idea to move plants around from one oak forest to another.