Herb: Prickly Blackcurrant

Latin name: Ribes lacustre

Synonyms: Ribes oxyacanthoides lacustre

Family: Grossulariaceae (Currant Family)

Medicinal use of Prickly Blackcurrant:

The leaves or the bark can be chewed and then placed on sores caused by the prickles of this plant. A decoction of the bark has been used as a wash for sore eyes. The decoction has also been taken by women during labour to ease the birth. A decoction of the root can be taken several times a day as a treatment for constipation. A decoction of the twigs has been taken in the treatment of general body aches. A decoction of dried branches has been used in the treatment of stomach complaints, diarrhoea and colds.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Cold damp woods. Swamps and wet woods.

Edible parts of Prickly Blackcurrant:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Tart and very juicy. The fully ripe fruit has an agreeable flavour. When crushed the fruit has a foul odour but when eaten by the handful the odour is inoffensive (this sounds a bit strange!) and when cooked they make a good sauce. The fruit can also be dried for later use or used to make jams and preserves. The fruit is about 5mm in diameter and is covered with weak gland-tipped bristles.

Other uses of the herb:

The roots have been boiled with cedar (Juniperus spp, Thuja sp.) and wild rose (Rosa spp) roots, then pounded and woven into rope. The sharp thorns have been used as probes for boils, for removing splinters and for tattooing.

Propagation of Prickly Blackcurrant:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 4 - 6 months cold stratification at about 0C and should be sown as early in the year as possible. Under normal storage conditions the seed can remain viable for 17 years or more. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, preferably with a heel of the previous year's growth, November to February in a cold frame or sheltered bed outdoors.

Cultivation of the herb:

Cold damp woods. Swamps and wet woods.

Known hazards of Ribes lacustre:

Skin contact with the spines can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.