Why Are Black Currant Banned in America?

Reviewed on 2/10/2021

Black currant ban

Blackcurrant bushes were grown in America back in the 1629s
Blackcurrant bushes were grown in America back in the 1629s

Blackcurrant bushes were grown in America back in the 1629s, but in 1911, the professional cultivation of the plant was banned. It is a carrier of a fungus called white pine blister rust. Hence, blackcurrant was declared illegal to protect pine forests. However, the fungus doesn’t cross over to infect pine trees unless conditions are just right.

  • Blackcurrants were responsible for the spread of white pine blister rust, a type of fungus that began gradually killing white pine trees. This became a major problem because white pine trees were an essential component of the lumber industry.
  • By the 1920s, millions of white pine trees were decimated by white pine blister rust, leading the federal government to ban and begin eradicating blackcurrants.
  • The nationwide ban was lifted in 1966, and many individual state bans have since also been removed, but blackcurrants have never really returned to the country in a big way.
  • Today, most white pine trees have been bred to resist the effects of white pine blister rust. The commercial growth of blackcurrants is no longer banned at the federal level, although several states do still have regulations in place to restrict the blackcurrants’ growth.
  • Blackcurrants are currently illegal to grow in New York, but it may soon be legal to grow cultivars that are immune to white pine blister rust.
  • In the United States, blackcurrants are not as common as they once were, but they have begun to thrive again in areas such as Connecticut, Oregon, and New York.
  • Recent efforts have begun to breed improved blackcurrant varieties that are less susceptible to disease, yield more fruit, and are more resistant to pests.

Other risks:

  • Although uncommon, blackcurrant may cause an allergic reaction in some people, especially in those who have a sensitivity to salicylate, a compound that occurs naturally in some plants. If you experience symptoms such as rashes, hives, or swelling after eating blackcurrant, you should discontinue its use immediately.
  • Blackcurrant seed oil may also cause side effects for some individuals, including gas, headaches, and diarrhea.
  • Those who are taking phenothiazines, a class of antipsychotic medications, should not take blackcurrant because it may increase the risk of seizure.
  • Blackcurrant may slow blood clotting. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a medication for blood clotting, such as Warfarin, you should consult your doctor before taking blackcurrant. You should also not take blackcurrant prior to surgery because it may increase bleeding risk.

Common benefits:

  • Blackcurrants, or Ribes nigrum, are low in calories but high in many nutrients, especially vitamin C. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant that prevents damage to the tissues caused by harmful free radicals and may even reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
  • They possess strong antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that can help prevent infection and disease and promote many aspects of health.
  • They have also been shown to help prevent eye disease, reduce the growth of cancer, and even block herpes outbreaks.
  • You can enjoy these sour berries all on their own, use them in cooking, or try a blackcurrant supplement for an easy way to take advantage of the nutritious benefits of blackcurrant.
  • A study published in Phytotherapy Research reported that blackcurrant extract stopped the herpes virus from adhering to the cells and prevented the spread of the virus. Coupled with traditional treatments and other natural remedies such as L-lysine and zinc, blackcurrant may be a useful addition to the diet to help prevent herpes outbreaks.
  • Studies conducted in Japan demonstrated that treating strains of influenza with a concentrated amount of blackcurrant seed extract completely suppresses the virus growth. Other research has found that blackcurrant oil may be effective against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers, abdominal pain, and nausea.
  • Blackcurrants are an excellent source of vitamin C, containing almost twice the amount than that in an orange. They also provide flavonoids, beta-carotene, lutein, and phenolic acid. These properties may help in fighting breast cancer and promoting eye health.

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References
Black Currants – Ribes nigrum: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/CarringtonREC/northern-hardy-fruit-evaluation-project/fruit-index/black-currant/black-currants-2013-ribes-nigrum

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