Description - The berries of the genus ribes are called currants (black currant, red currant and white currant) or gooseberries. The Black Currant is occasionally found wild in damp woods as far north as the middle of Scotland, but is considered to be a true native only in Yorkshire and the Lake District - when found apparently wild in other parts of the country, its presence is due to the agency of birds. It is easily distinguished at all seasons by the strong perfume of its buds and leaves. This shrub shows the only instance of a process by which double flowers may become single, by changing petals into stamina. It has a solitary, one-flowered peduncle at the base of the raceme, and its leaves are dotted underneath.
Geography - Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to France, Bulgaria, N. and C. Asia. It is hardy and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from March to November, in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.Edible - Fruit - raw or cooked. An excellent aromatic flavour. The fully ripe fruit is very acceptable raw, though it is more often cooked and used to make pies, jams etc. Very rich in vitamin C. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter, though selected cultivars have larger fruits. The leaves are used in soups. The dried leaves are a tea substitute. They are sometimes added to blended herb teas.
Medicinal use - They have diuretic and diaphoretic actions, help to increase bodily resistance to infections and are a valuable remedy for treating colds and flu, The juice, especially when fresh or vacuum-sealed, helps to stem diarrhoea and calms indigestion. The leaves are cleansing, diaphoretic and diuretic. By encouraging the elimination of fluids they help to reduce blood volume and thereby lower blood pressure. An infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatic pain and whooping cough, and can also be used externally on slow-healing cuts and abscesses.It can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers.The oil from the seed is added to skin preparations and cosmetics. It is often combined with vitamin E to prevent oxidation. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. A blue or violet dye is obtained from the fruit. The leaves are used for vegetable preservation
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