Native Currant (Acrotriche depressa)


Native Currant
Native Currant makes for a prickly harvest

Family: Ericaceae

Habitat: Woodlands

Description and uses: 

Out local ‘Native Currant’ is Acrotriche depressa.

This low, wiry bush that grows to about 80 cm is full of surprises. It doesn’t look like much, even when flowering because the light green flowers hang below the branches just above the ground.

 

Acrotriche depressa flowers
Tiny flowers hang from branches just above ground level

 

Native Currant
Flowers form a mass at the base of some plants

 

Getting down on the ground, at the right time of year, will reward you with a view of round, brown/red berries in amongst the flowers. The berries redden and soften as they ripen. Its easier to get them when they’re a little brown and quite firm.

 

Acrotriche depressa berries can be hard to get ti
Clusters of berries hidden away.. They turn redder and get softer as they ripen.

 

Native currant (Acrotriche depressa)
The berries aren’t the easiest things to get to…

 

These berries can be tricky to get to without being stabbed. There are no spines on the bush – it is the leaves that are hard and sharp. Not overly painfully sharp but disconcerting for the novice gatherer.

This is one easy way to make sure you have the right plant – grab hold of a branch firmly and when you take your hand away there could be one or a number of tiny leaves stuck in the skin!

 

The tiny leaves are sharp
Tiny, sharp leaves often stick in your skin.

 

One of the bush’s hidden gems, Acrotriche depressa berries are a little sharp to the taste while brown, sweetening a little as they turn redder.  This sharpness makes for a very pleasant tasting jam.

Berries contain a small amount of Vitamin C and possibly other antioxidants.

At this time of year (August), the berries are abundant and easy to find once you know the plant. The leaves are the most distinguishing features when the plant isn’t flowering – they’re  sharp little buggers!

Native Currant
Some very prickly leaves

 

There is another plant called ‘Native Currant’, dealt with in this blog, it is better known as Coast Bearded Heath