Ribes nigrum

Ribes nigrum

Black currant, or even Cassis (Ribes nigrum L.) is a shrub species belonging to the Grossulariaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, United Plantae, Phylum Magnoliophyta, Magnoliopsida Class, Rosales Order, Grossulariaceae Family and therefore to the Genus Ribes and to the R. nigrum Species.

Etymology –
The term Ribes comes from the medieval Latin, ribes, deriving from the Arabic ribas, name of an acidulous plant mentioned by the Arab doctors that it is supposed may be the acetosella or a Rheum. The specific epithet nigrum is derived from black niger, due to the color of its fruits.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Black currant is a shrub native to the mountainous areas of Eurasia and its natural habitat is that of the mid-mountain areas with a rather humid continental climate; It is a plant that is cultivated a little all over the world, especially in areas with a more humid continental climate.

Description –
Ribes nigrum is a shrub up to 2 meters high with deciduous foliage and branchy stems.
It has a smooth bark, with a clear to reddish color in young and dark stems in old stems. The leaves are large, flat, petiolate, with three to five lobes, an acute apex and a toothed margin. The lower page is covered with a slight tomentum and is rich in yellowish glands from which it gives off a characteristic odor.
The flowers are collected in hanging racemes, they are pentamers, with a green-whitish color, not very showy. Flowering is in the spring period.
The fruits are sub-globose berries of 8-12 mm, glabrous with some sessile glands, crowned at the apex by the remains of the perianthus, black when ripe, strongly aromatic, with numerous seeds. the berries appear in the period of August-September.

Cultivation –
Black currant is a plant that adapts to all soils as long as there are no water stagnations. Background fertilization can be done with manure. The propagation is done by cuttings of the stump, tucking the mother plants in the autumn and taking the rooted stems in the spring. The transplant is carried out by machine on rows distant 2.5-3 m between the rows and 1.5-1.8 m on the row.
In specialized cultivation, we need to carry out a summary check of the weeds through two or three rows of weeds that keep weeds under the harvesting horizon, which is generally quite high. Unless special conditions do not require irrigation.
Keeping in mind that the currant fructifies mainly on the branches of a year and little on the short ones and inserted on old wood, the pruning operation must be directed to ensure the renewal of the vegetation.
Maturation also lasts 3 weeks, therefore the harvest is carried out in 2 –3 times, as the fruits are kept for a long time on the plant when they reach maturity. For details of the cultivation technique, see the following sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
The black currant differs greatly from the red currant, not only for the color but also for the aroma, the taste and the destination of the fruits. The leaves, buds and fruits are intensely scented due to the presence of glands containing essential oils.
The fruits of black currant are destined exclusively for the processing industry.
Furthermore, the black currant has a refreshing, diuretic-purifying action, strengthens the body’s natural defenses and protects the vascular wall like all spontaneous fruits rich in vitamins. Among the available cultivars, all of which are of foreign origin, but which adapt well under our conditions, we remember: Climax, Boskoop Giant, Burga, Noir de Bourgogne, Tenah, Black Reward and Black Down (the two Blacks are self-fertile); Tifon, Troll and Andega (more recently introduced, self-fertile and resistant to oidium).
With regards to healthy uses, buds and young shoots are used, which have not given rise to wood.
The main components are anthocyanosides, both dimers and trimers. It also contains numerous flavonoids and a small amount of essential oil.
Due to these characteristics, Ribes nigrum is used in the protective action on tissues and helps reduce the development of allergic reactions.
The protective action of this plant reduces the damage that free radicals can cause to many tissues. The chemical composition of the currant is also such as to reduce the formation of substances that produce inflammation and to combat the fragility of capillaries and blood vessels.
But beware of some precautions in its use as it can be harmful to hypertensive patients, because it can increase the blood pressure of the blood.

Preparation Mode –
Black currant is the basis of Crème de cassis (cassis is the French name for black currant), a liqueur at 20% by volume with which kir is prepared, with the addition of white wine.
For health purposes described above, a preparation of water, alcohol and glycerine from the youngest parts of the plant (glycerine macerated), dry extract can be prepared.
The best preparations are glycerine macerated and dry extract.
In this case the doses are: 70-100 drops per day of maceration, divided into two administrations, one in the morning upon awakening and the other in the early afternoon, making sure that the largest dose of product is taken in the morning. For the dry extract 500-700 mg, divided into two administrations, one in the morning on waking and the other in the early afternoon, making sure that the largest dose of product is taken in the morning. Children under the age of 12 must use smaller amounts. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use it.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of Italian Regions – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher – Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d ‘Italy, Edagricole, Bologna. – Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is assumed for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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