Wax currant shrubs, Ribes cereum, have recently begun leafing out and showing their pink trumpet flowers in both Wyoming and Northern Colorado. I often find shrubs quite difficult to identify, but wax currant has memorable fan-shaped leaves, and, when the pretty, petite, pink blooms are out, this species is much more noticeable and distinctive.
Also known as the western red currant or the squaw currant (or even whiskey currant in one variety), this plant produces berries in summer, which are supposedly edible but not that tasty to humans. I’m not one to sample any round, red berry I find on a trail–like mushrooms, I worry that my identification might be wrong–so I can’t verify that statement, especially as I read on one website that eating large quantities of the fruit causes burning in the throat.
Wax currant can grow in a variety of soils at a large range of elevations. I usually see it in open, dry areas, but now that I am more familiar with identifying it, perhaps I will find it on hikes in more varied locations.