Shrub to 0.5 m tall Leaves: alternate, stalked, 5 - 10 cm wide, palmately three- to five-lobed (mostly five-lobed), nearly round to heart-shaped, palmately veined, toothed, thin, sometimes softly hairy beneath. Terminal leaf lobe straight-sided. Inflorescence: a small, drooping cluster (raceme) of many flowers, 3 - 9 cm long, glandular. Flowers: greenish purple to purple. Stalk 1 - 4 mm long, often with short-stalked glands. Stamens five. Styles two, deeply divided. Sepals: forming a short, five-lobed tube (calyx). Calyx greenish purple to purple, disc-shaped. Lobes spreading, to 2 mm long, broadly egg- to diamond-shaped with a blunt apex. Petals: five, in the throat of the calyx tube, purplish, to 1 mm long, with a tapering base and flattened or notched apex, alternate with calyx lobes. Disk low, shaped like a broad pentagon. Fruit: a hard berry, many-seeded, crowned by the shriveled calyx, red, 6 - 8 mm wide, smooth. Branches: straggling, without spines.
Similar species: The similar Ribes americanum and R. nigrum differ by having black berries and leaves with yellow, resinous dots. Ribes rubrum is also similar but has non-glandular flower stalks and a curved-sided terminal leaf lobe.
Flowering: May to June
Habitat and ecology: Rare, though apparently native to the Chicago Region. Has been found near a degraded seep. May also be found in other wet habitats.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Ribes comes from the Arabic name for a shrub that has acidic fruit. Triste means dull or sad.
Unarmed straggling shrub; lvs glabrous to softly hairy beneath, broadly truncate to shallowly cordate at base, mostly 5-lobed, the lobes toothed from sinus to tip, the two middle sinuses the deepest, the lateral lobes direct forward; racemes drooping, the axis and pedicels (1-4 mm) often with short-stipitate glands; hypanthium above the ovary saucer-shaped, less than 1 mm; sep greenish-purple, broadly rhombic-ovate, 2 mm; pet cuneate, 1 mm, truncate or notched; fr red; 2n=16. Bogs and wet woods; Nf. to Alas., s. to N.J., Mich., Wis., Minn., and Alta.; n. Asia. June, July.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.