Alpine prickly currant blooming at Indian Springs Campground, Malheur National Forest..............July 1, 2010. Note the glandular upper surface of the leaves which differentiates this species from the similar prickly currant (Ribes lacustre) which has glabrous upper leaf surfaces (and usually larger leaves).
Alpine prickly currant is a a low shrub with straggly branches ranging from 20-100 cm high. It is a densely short-pubescent and glandular species with 1-5 flattened spines at the nodes from 4-6 mm long and a few shorter, slender bristles or spines between the nodes. The leaves are deeply 5-lobed with hear-shaped bases and with the lobes deeply cleft and coarsely toothed. Individual leaves are 1.5-3 cm wide are haired above and covered with numerous stalked glands.
The inflorescences consist of short axillary racemes of 4-10 whitish, pinkish or purplish flowers. The pedicels are 1-5 cm long and jointed. The hypanthium is saucer-shaped rather than tubular , about 5 mm wide and lined with a thin disk. The sepals are yellowish-green to pinkish in color. The stamens are about equal to the petals. The berry is reddish to black, 5-8 mm wide and glandular.
Alpine prickly currant is found on dry, open rocky outcrops or slopes at high elevations above 1800 meters in the mountains.
Alpine prickly currant may be found from the Cascade Mts of British Columbia south to California and east to Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.