Historic 1930s Collection of Ribes Tranferred to WIS

An important collection of several hundred native Ribes specimens collected in the 1930s by former Herbarium Director Norman C. Fassett was recently transferred to WIS.  These had been ‘lost’ for decades within a set of herbarium cabinets kept in a backroom of the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Plant Industry Laboratory in Madison.  As that agency began to prepare for a move across town, staff re-discovered the cabinets and their contents. Ribes (currants and gooseberries) were once an important fruit crop in many areas of the northern USA, but their cultivation was restricted or even banned in some states when it was realized that the shrubs may serve as a host plant for white pine blister rust.  At least twelve different species of Ribes grow wild in Wisconsin, and Dr. Fassett appears to have traveled across the state to collect these and to document their distribution.  A guide to growing currents and gooseberries in Wisconsin has been published by UWExtension, and can be downloaded here.