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Fuchsia-Flowering Gooseberry

By Kelli Kallenborn (KelliJanuary 28, 2014

Something brightens a shady spot in a chaparral canyon. Red flowers dangle like many earrings from a glossy-leaved shrub. A hummingbird guards this stash of nectar. His prize plant is the fuchsia-flowering gooseberry.

Gardening picture

Fuchsia-flowering gooseberry or Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) is native to coastal slopes from central California to northern Baja California. It is found in Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub habitats at elevations from 0 to 2000 feet elevation. Mature plants are 4 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide.  The plant is very spiny.  The one-inch leaves are glossy green.  The plant is generally considered evergreen but is actually drought deciduous.  That means that it will lose leaves in response to drought.  The leaves turn red before falling off, adding some 'fall color' to the summer.  

The small berries are not considered palatable.  Even the Native Americans did not use them.  They did have medicinal uses for the leaves, fruits, and roots of various gooseberries and currants.    

The big attraction of the plant is the red flowers. They dangle like the flowers of the fuchsia, hence the name.  Fuchsia-flowering gooseberry is considered the showiest of the California Ribes, and speciosum means 'showy'.  Flowering can be from January to May.  The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds.  


Both gooseberries and currants are Ribes species. The difference is that gooseberry stems are spiny and currant stems are not. 


Chaparral currant is recommended for Sunset zones 7-9 and 14-24 (approximately USDA zones 8-10). This corresponds to the mediterranean climate zone of California. Though it is a xeriscape plant, it is not recommended for the desert (Sunset zones 10-13).


Plants should be given full sun along the coast or partial shade inland. Supplemental water is not necessary but moderate water can be given to keep the plant from going dormant in summer. 


Note that Ribes serves as an alternate host for white pine blister rust and growing of them in banned in a few areas where white pines grow


Native California Ribes are considered among the easiest native shrubs to grow.  Attract hummingbirds and add some colorful beauty with fuchsia-flowering gooseberry.  

  About Kelli Kallenborn  
Kelli KallenbornKelli has lived in California for 25 years and really enjoys the climate and all of the varied natural ecosystems. You can also follow Kelli on Google.

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» Read articles about: North American Native Plants, Ornamental Trees And Shrubs, Drought-tolerant Plants

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