paddle-petalled ribes

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pollen grain drawing on the right from Dorothy Hodges’ book, Pollen Loads of the Honey bee.

Flowering now is Ribes sanguineum.  Its tiny, delicately fragrant  flowers form a small drooping cluster of blossoms with intensely rose-colored oval buds at the tips.  The 5 exterior petals (sepals?) of each blossom sport vivid tonalities of carmine/magenta/pink, and the interior corolla has 5 astounding, white, paddle-shaped petals that together with the stamens form a little circle around the single pale green pistil. The stamens have their backs right up against the spaces between the little petals, and they give the impression that their job is to hold up those floral walls.

This little structure is absolutely amazing on its own, but there’s another really cool feature of this plant–there are miniscule glandular hairs on the outside of the receptacle and the red petals.They look like miniature transparent, pink-tinged thumb tacks. They taste a bit sweet. Well, I think they do, but I could be wrong.

Flowering current offers both pollen and nectar to early native bees, and it is also a favorite of hummingbirds, thus it is an important plant in the pollinator food repertoire.

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