Ribes speciosum

Fuschia-Flowered Gooseberry

This plant grows in coastal sage scrub and chaparral, though it is no longer common in Santa Clara County. This is a striking shrub with bright red flowers which hang down like little Chinese Lanterns along the arching branches. The thorns make it an excellent barrier plant in full sun with little water. It is best planted as a specimen shrub with other chaparral species.

The genus Ribes includes both Currants and Gooseberries (Gooseberries have spines). It is represented in California’s native flora by 35 species and 19 botanical varieties; these impressive numbers are well-matched by the genus’ importance and value for wildlife. These plants will suffer if their roots are handled. Do not pry or prune the roots.

Wildlife value: Hummingbirds and nectar-seeking butterflies frequent the flowers. The fruits have considerable value for songbirds, ground squirrels, and many other animals. The thorny foliage makes especially good nesting and cover areas. Native American uses: Some western tribes used the fruits for making pemmican.