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Names. The Latin names for currants are ribes; and ribes fructu rubro the red currant, albo white, and nigro black.

Description. The red-currant bush hath a stalk covered with a thin brownish bark outwards, and greenish underneath; the leaves are of a blackish green, cut on the edges into five parts, much like a vine-leaf, but smaller; the flowers come forth at the joints of the leaves, many together on a long stalk, hanging down about a finger's length, of an herby colour; after which they are ripe; of a pleasant tart taste, wherein is small seed: the root is woody and spreading.

There is another sort thereof, whose berries are twice as large as the former, and of a better relish.

The white currant tree hath a taller and straighter stem than the red, a whiter bark, and smaller leaves but hath such like berries upon long stalks, of the same bigness as the first, but of a shining transparent whiteness, and of a more pleasant taste than the former.

The black currant riseth higher than the last, and is thicker set with branches round about, and more pliant, the younger covered with a pale, and the elder with browner, bark; the leaves are smaller than those of the former, and often with fewer cuts therein: the flowers are alike, but of a greenish purple colour, which produce small black berries; the leaves and fruit have an unpleasant smell, but yet are wholesome, though not pleasant.

Place. All these sorts of currants grow plentifully in England, in gardens where they are planted; they have been found growing naturally wild in Savoy in Switzerland, as Gesner saith; and some in Austria, saith Clusius: they grow in great abundance in Candia, and other places in the Streights, from whence in great quantities they are brought dried unto us.

Time. They flower and bear fruit in June, July, and August.

Government and virtues. Currants are under the influence of the benevolent planet Venus; they are of a moist, temperate, refreshing nature; the red and white currants are good to cool and refresh faintings of the stomach, to quench thirst, and stir up an appetite, and therefore are profitable in hot and sharp agues: it tempereth the heat of the liver and blood, and the sharpness of choler, and resisteth putrefaction; it also taketh away the loathing of meat, and weakness of the stomach by much vomiting, and is good for those that have any looseness of the belly; Gesner saith, that the Switzers use them for the cough, and so well they may; for, take dry currants a quarter of a pound, of brandy half a pint set the brandy on fire, then bruise the currants and put them into the brandy while it is burning, stirring them until the brandy is almost consumed, that it becomes like unto an electuary, and it is an excellent remedy to be taken hot for any violent cough, cold, or rheum. The black currants and the leaves are used in sauces by those who like the tast and scent of them, which I believe very few do of either.


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