Clove Currant Form

For anyone growing clove currant, does it seem likely that it could be trained into a single or multi limbed tree form? It doesn’t seem likely from my experience with other currant but it’s worth asking.

I’ve got a Missouri Giant (on the right) that came trained to a very short single stem tree form. The Crandall (on the left) is growing as a multi-stem shrub. The stem that it arrived with was dead, so it sent up three new ones. This is their second year in ground. Picture was taken this Autumn. Ignore the peach and plum trees, they were rootstock suckers I just needed to stick somewhere.


Somebody will hopefully correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Ribes aureum (not sure on the subspecies though) is often used as rootstock for grafting gooseberries grown as standards.

I’m not sure how long it would be happy as a standard or if you’d need to retrain a new shoot every few years. I know @Lee lost his gorgeous currant espalier/cordon since the trunks just didnt live that long. But that may be less an issue with Ribes aureum – if european nurseries graft onto it, I have to imagine its life isn’t that short as a standard.

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That’s too bad Lee lost that cordon. I have one also with Rovada. It’s not full yet. I’m growing out the top “T” at this point. Both sides are formed. It should be super close to finished after this year. I started another with primus white which has the longest strings of berries I ever saw. As long as a foot long. That one was just planted last year.

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I had 4 ribes aureum (I removed 2) and due to their positioning I didn’t prune them for 8-10 years. The only time those plants lost branches was when a branch was damaged low (ie, from a falling limb or mechanical injury).

Wish I had known they were good for grafting gooseberries to, I’d have done that rather than just removing them.

They were also terribly unfruitful. I got less than a handful of ripe berries each year from large well-established plants. The smell when they were in flower is the only reason I left the 2 remaining bushes there.

I’ve got a Red Lake cordon growing well along a chain link fence in my side yard, though I fear it might succumb to being choked out by an actinidia polygama.

Yup, my R. odoratum were on their own roots. And yes, R. areum is a good rootstock for tree-form Ribes. I tried to graft mine a few times but the grafts never took. Now I may be inspired to try again.

My R.aureum also bore very few fruit.

I go into more detail about all this in my book UNCOMMON FRUIT FOR EVERY GARDEN, now out of print but to be back in print, revised, in, I hope, a couple of years.

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I have two golden currants sourced from different areas of the country. What needs to be done is grow a few thousand out and pick some potential cultivars to clone. One of mine doubled production the second year it fruited. This is the third. See what happens. Berries were tasty but small.


Thank you everyone. A cordon may work for where I am thinking. My main drive for the tree form would be getting most of the plant beyond deer preferred browsing height. Secondary is getting up around a window that gives the house a good cross breeze most days. If it can survive the deer it sounds like a good multi season interest specimen. They are already supposed to be “deer resistant” and a cordon would fit better so maybe.

These are my larger ones. Both “rescued” from rootstock of red currants. They are often used here as many prefer compact growing currants and gooseberries and not bending down for all of the 10 minutes it takes to harvest a bush :face_with_monocle:… I like the taste (like less tart josta), they do produce well and last year (wetter) I even made jam.

As for the form, they bear more fruit on bending canes.

This one is 2m tall and 3m wide. Would be wider, if left to its own devices:

And this one still has the poor 25year old Jonkheer van Teets on one cane. Oddly enough it 's decline stopped when I stopped fighting the golden currant suckers.

Red currant pensioneer:


Once established, Ribes aureum naturally suckers to form wide clonal colonies. If a truly single trunk specimen is your goal, this species would not be what I recommend.

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I agree it’s a beast. Mine is huge about five feet wide, as the suckers are starting to come now adding to its total width. I have golden currants too. Not as wide but taller at close to six feet. You could train that to a single trunk. But it’s hard to find sellers. I have two. One is from seed. They grow pretty fast. Well about four seasons to get a five foot branch, mature plant. With a small plant it grew to five feet its third year. One is supposed to have yellow fruit. I’ll probably find out this summer. If you can root cuttings. I have large mature plants. I threw out about 12 feet of branches this winter. Closely related to Crandall. Berries are very small on one. Fruit is sparse too. Has the Clove scented yellow flowers though.
The other has yet to flower. It will this year. Supposedly yellow fruit. From seed it could be anything. Survived the winters here just fine.
Crandall is very hard to root and the goldens might be too? Don’t know?
I like growing currants. I also grow
King Edward VII Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’)
It’s flowering right now. All my others are not that far along.


Hmmm from reading this, is putting a Crandall in a narrow bed between a walkway and a wall a bad idea? Or will it be manageable?

I have another spot I could put it, but it would be in partial shade facing south.

Best in partial shade. Likes broken sunlight. You can manage it. Prune to size. Remove canes if too big. Pull any suckers out if you have to.

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could you post a pic of the King Edward in full bloom, or is it up at your cottage?

@EJh how wide is the walkway?

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The bed against the wall is about 18 inches wide and then has about a 3ft wide walkway in front of it. I can obstruct it somewhat cuz it leads to storage area, water meter etc. But not completely since water people need to walk back there 3x a year (a big rose bush used to be growing there and I figured a candall would be nicer than thorns).

The other location is on the opposite side from the walkway by my entryway where there is a 4x4 square bed that is currently full of grass and weeds that I was planning at some point to clear out and plant a black currant.

I can always swap them and put a more compact black currant in the walkway if need be (I want one for juice/jelly)

Walkway has more sun, 4x4 is partial shade. Both face SSW

It’s here, not much to look at. Kinda pathetic 🫨


@tana that looks like my Josta’s form. the whole family seems like its ill suited for control so maybe I’ll put the clove somewhere more conducive to its habit. I just like the idea of edible, fragrant, and pretty. Deer really limit my options outside of the fence line.

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Looking forward to the revised edition!

I wonder how much of the issues with grafting and/or suckering are the result of different genetics across R. aureum. From doing a bit of late-night google scholar abstract searching, it sounds like two rootstocks are commonly used in Europe – Brecht and Pallagi 2, and that these have limited suckering compared to most ribes.

I don’t know that I have ever seen anybody selling these in the US – maybe time to think up a small-scale experiment for a GRIN request because they Ribes sp. on Ribes aureum have such great potential as an edible landscaping plant.


I think it actually looks pretty cool.

no fruit, I assume, but any fragrance? It blooms an interesting color very early.

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No fragrance and it does produce berries. They are kinda dry. The flowers do open. Most were closed, at 3 O’clock you can see a couple open.
Today a few pluots opened flowers, in a week peaches will open. So last year first stone fruit flower opening was May 1st. April 4th this year.

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