Preparation: Syrup of Mulberries

The fruit of Ribes nigrum, Linné, and Ribes rubrum, Linné.
Nat. Ord.—Saxifragaceae.
COMMON NAMES: (1) Black currant, (2) Red currant.

Botanical Source.—Ribes Nigrum. The Black currant is a woody bush or shrub, from 3 to 5 feet in height, with stems unarmed, and leaves 3 to 5-lobed, punctate beneath, dentate-serrate, and longer than their petioles. The racemes are lax, hairy, and somewhat nodding. Calyx campanulate, with reflexed segments; petals oblong, yellowish; bracts minute, subulate, or blunt, nearly as long as the pedicels. The fruit is large, roundish-ovoid, and nearly black (W.—L.).

Ribes Rubrum, or common Red currant, has unarmed, straggling, or reclined stems, with leaves obtusely 3 to 5-lobed, smooth above, pubescent beneath, subcordate at base, with margin mucronately serrate. The racemes are from lateral buds, distinct from the leaves, pendulous, and nearly glabrous. Bracts blunt, shorter than the pedicels. Calyx flattened out, short, spreading, with obtuse lobes; petals obcordate and green. Fruit globose, smooth, and red (W.—L.).

History and Chemical Composition.—The Black currant is a native of Europe and Siberia, growing in woods, cultivated in Europe and this country, and flowering in May. The Red currant grows in cold, damp woods and bogs in this country and Europe, and is extensively cultivated in gardens. It also flowers in May. The fruit of these two plants is the part used, and imparts its virtues to water. The juice of Red currants contains free acids (malic, citric, and tartaric acids, 1.5 to 3 per cent), sugar (4 to 7 per cent), vegetable jelly (pectin matter), gum, etc. That of Black currants contains the same, with the addition of a peculiar volatile principle, and a violet coloring matter.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The juice of these berries, especially of the black currant, is said to be diuretic and diaphoretic. They may be made into a jelly, a jam, paste, etc., and are very useful in febrile and inflammatory diseases, and in hoarseness and affections of the throat. The raw juice is an excellent refrigerant beverage in febrile diseases. A decoction of the bark of the black currant has proved useful in calculous affections, dropsy, and hemorrhoidal tumors. It may be freely used. The French prepare from the berries an aromatized, fermented liquor called cassis (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1888, p. 337).

Related Species.Ribes floridum, L'Heritier, the Wild black currant of this country, possesses similar properties. It is a handsome shrub growing from 3 to 5 feet high, with leaves 1 or 2 inches long, and somewhat wider, subcordate: from 3 to 5-lobed; lobes acute, spreading, sprinkled on both sides with yellowish, resinous dots, just visible to the naked eye. Flowers greenish-yellow, subcampanulate, in pendulous, pubescent, many-flowered racemes. Calyx cylindrical; bracts linear, longer than the pedicels; petioles 1 or 2 inches long. Fruit obovoid, smooth, black, insipid. It flowers in May and June (W-G.).

Shepherdia argentea, Buffalo berry, Bull berry.—This shrub produces an acidulous fruit, resembling currants, being a little more acid (Trimble). The fruit is largely used as a food along the Upper Missouri, where it occurs in abundance.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.