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Class V. PENTANDRIA. Order I. MONOGYNIA.
Style bifid. Berry many-seeded, inferior.
The Red Currant is a native of England, but is now cultivated in gardens throughout most parts of the United States. It grows from five to six feet in height, is divided into many branches, and covered with a dark brown bark, except the younger limbs, which are of a light green color. The leaves are serrated, veined, divided into five, and sometimes seven lobes, of a pale green color, and stand upon tapering footstalks, which are about the length of the leaves, and somewhat hairy near the base; the bracteæ are small, oval, pointed, and placed at the base of the leaf stalks and peduncles; the flowers grow in lateral, pendulous, raceme, or clusters, and appear in April; the calyx is divided into five spreading, reflexed, pointed, oblong, concave, permanent segments, which are of a greenish yellow color; the corolla is composed of five small, obtuse, upright petals, of a yellow color, and inserted in the calyx; the anthers are compressed, gaping at the edges, and attached at their sides to the filaments; the germen is roundish, placed below the corolla, and supports a cloven style, with obtuse stigma; the fruit is a round, shining red berry, of one cell, separated into two receptacles, and containing many roundish seeds, and of a pleasant, tart taste; the root is woody and spreading.
The Currant being so abundantly cultivated in our gardens, renders it accessable to those who may wish to be supplied with the fruit, which from its grateful acidity, becomes universally acceptable, either as nature has presented it, or variously prepared by art. From accounts given of this plant by various writers, it appears that several species have been found growing wild in Switzerland and some parts of Africa — the Ribes Rubrum, Red Currant, Ribes Nigrum, Black Currant, Ribes Albo, White Currant, Ribes Floridum, Ribes Trifidum, Ribes Rigens, Ribes Triflorum, all of which possess nearly the same properties. A very delicious wine is made from the expressed juice of the Red Currant, with the addition of a little sugar, which surpasses in point of flavor and quality almost all other kinds.
A very curious method has of late been discovered in the art of cultivating the Currant, which adds greatly to its appearance and beauty, and hence forms, not only one of the most useful, but one of the most pleasing and beautiful plants that have ever been introduced into our gardens. Early in spring a single stalk is cut near the ground, and the largest branches trimmed off; the tip end is then cut and placed some six inches into the ground, which takes root, and small branches appear at the top which was once the root; after it has taken sufficient root, the stalk is trimmed to where the new branches make their appearance, and the plant assumes the appearance of a small tree, the trunk entirely divested of succulent stalks, and the branches laden to their extremities with the fruit.
Medical Properties and Uses. The medicinal properties of Red Currants appear to be similar to those of the other sub-acrid fruits, which wre esteemed to be moderately refrigerant, antiseptic, attenuant, and aperient. They may be used with advantage to allay thirst in most febrile complaints, to lessen an increased secretion of the bile, and to correct a putrid and scorbutic state of the fluids, especially in sanguine temperaments.