A few days ago, a couple of things brought to mind this particular plant and renewed my interest in adding it to my landscape:
First, a Facebook post of a gorgeous specimen, and second, an emailed picture from a friend asking if I could identify.
Clove or golden currant (also often listed as Ribes odoratum) is a native, deciduous shrub. It can grow to 6 feet tall with arching upright branches to form a small thicket often wider than it is tall (this characteristic being what has kept me from planting thus far). Unlike some currants, this species is thornless. It produces three, sometimes five-lobed blue-green leaves up to 2 inches in length that are on long petioles. In the fall leaves can turn yellowish orange before falling.
The spectacular flowers are produced over a two- to three-week period in mid-spring—they are blooming now. The bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers have five prominent petals surrounding a small central corona. Individual blossoms are about a half-inch across and borne in terminal clusters of up to 20 blooms. The edible berries are black and about the size of a small blueberry.
The clove currant is best known for its fragrance that has a distinct smell of cloves and carnation. I have read that the fragrance is most pronounced in the afternoon.
There are about 150 species of currants across the northern hemisphere. The currants commonly grown in gardens for their fruit include the black currant (R. nigrum), red currant (R. rubrum), jostaberry (R. x culverwellii) and the gooseberry (R. uva-crispa).
Unlike most currants, the clove currant is very drought tolerant.
In the landscape the clove currant is an excellent shrub for adding to a sunny mixed border or near a patio. It will tolerate light shade and still bloom. Though found in limestone areas it seems to grow well in more acidic conditions.
Currants grow best in organically rich, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained clay or silt loams in full sun to part shade. Some part afternoon shade is valued in hot summer climates, but fewer flowers and fruits are usually produced in part shade conditions. Tolerates poor soils and drought. Apply a good compost mulch to the root zone. Prefers consistent and even moisture. Avoid overhead watering. Renewal prune in late winter to early spring each year as needed. Generally younger branches produce the most fruit so if your aim is fruit production, older, dead or damaged branches need to be removed; of course, this is a good practice for most any plant.
Propagate by cuttings, seed or harvesting sucker plants.
I am almost ready to try this plant here at my Two Acre Paradise/Three Dog Circus. First, I must consider how to contain to where I want it to grow—remember suckers?
As always happy gardening.