Shrub Layer
Golden Currant, Ribes Aureum

Golden Currant, Ribes Aureum

Though actually named after their lovely little golden-yellow flowers, golden currants do grow a tasty fruit that can be yellow, purple, or even red. The point is to enjoy them no matter their color!


  • Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 8i (can withstand cold down to -30° F, or -34° C)
  • Soil PH: 6.0 – 8.0. Tolerates a variety of soils.ii
  • Watering needs: Medium. Can take standing in water AND drought.iii
  • Blooming Season: Mid spring
  • Harvest season: Summer to Autumn
  • Fruiting age: 2 – 3 years, but about 4 years to full production.
  • Average mature yield: Unknown, though their cousins, red, white and black currants, produce 5 or more pounds of fruit per year.iv One account records 3 pounds of fairly large fruit from a young (three-year old) golden currant bush.v
  • Pollination for Fruit: One plant will produce fruit on its own, but additional plants will increase yield on all the
  • Size at maturity: 3 – 7 feet tall, 2 – 6 feet wide (1-2 by .6 – 2 meters), though occasionally as tall as 10 feet or more (3 m).
  • Sun needs: Full sun to part shade (can tolerate full shade, but is not likely to flower or fruit there).vii
  • Preferred habitat: Gravelly riverbanks, mountainsides, and sandy bluffs near water.viii
  • Growth rate (vigor): Moderate to fastix
  • Natural reproductive rate (and methods): Medium, mostly by rhizomatous root-spread.
  • Propagation method: Removal of root sprouts, rooting branch cuttings (12 inch cutting placed directly into soil)x, and from seed. Seeds need cold stratification, but can remain viable for 17 years or more.xi
  • Average life span: Unknown, but said to be one of the longer lived species of currant bushes.xii
  • Plant family: Grossulariaceae


A favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, this lovely, rather tolerant, arching shrub is very easy to grow. Not only is it incredibly hardy, but it’s also incredibly ornamental. In fact, the name “golden currant” comes from its impressively lovely little trumpet-shaped yellow flowers,xiii which grow in tight bunches around the bush—bunches that will eventually be bunches of delicious berries.

Though traditionally greenish-yellow, the fruit can sometimes be purple (reddish-brown, really), or even red, and tends to be about 1 cm thick (about the size of a blueberry). It is considered one of the larger fruit species of currant.

Golden currants have an excellent flavor. Maybe that’s why there are so many recipes that use golden currants. I’ve seen recipesxiv for currant jellies, jams, sauce, syrup, ice-cream, tarts, cookies, and chipotles, all of which could be made with golden currant. They really are as dynamic as other more common fruits when it comes to the ways you could use them in the kitchen.