Currants and Gooseberries Native to California *
Currants and gooseberries (Ribes spp.), are some of the neatest California native plants. They have great flowers, tasty fruit, fragrant foliage, good fall color, and much more. Currants (no spines, clusters of flowers) and gooseberries(thorns and many small flowers) are loved by many birds including the California Thrasher the Hermit Thrush, and the American Robin. Currant and gooseberry flowers are very popular with hummingbirds. They do well under oaks and once established, don't need water. Overall they are great in gardens.
Golden Currant is an erect shrub that grows from 3 to 6 ft tall. It has very dark colored berries, shiny green leaves, and yellow flowers that turn orange with age. It grows in Sagebrush Scrub, Lodgepole Forest, Valley Grassland, and Riparian in Fresno and Inyo counties along the sierra Nevada range to Modoc county and Siskiyou counties.
This Golden currant forms a small thicket about 6 ft wide and 3-6ft tall. It has very straight branches an lots of yellow flowers and small shiny green leaves. The yellow flowers are popular with hummingbirds. It has yellow berries that turn black as they ripen. They are quite tasty, but you have to pick a lot of them. The berries are also a favorite of the California Thrasher as well as many other berry eating birds. It makes a neat, clean bush without any sticky leaves or spines, They grow in Southern Oak Woodland along the coast ranges from Alameda to Riverside county.
Hillside Gooseberry forms a large shrub, 8ft tall and 6ft wide. It has lots of delicate red and white flowers that hummingbirds like. Many other California birds use it for cover. It is found in Chaparral, Central Oak Woodland, Coastal Sage Scrub, Mixed-evergreen Forest, and Redwood Forest plant communities along the coast ranges from Mendocino to Monterey County.
Ribes divaricatum grows 3 to 9 ft tall. It is really spiny. Flowers are not very showy but there are a lot of them. It likes shady areas and riparian corridors. It is found in central oak woodland, mixed evergreen forest, and Redwood forest along the coast ranges from Santa Barbra county to Humboldt and Shasta counties.
This is probably the most drought tolerant Ribes in California. (Except maybe R. aurium) It grows in the chaparral and Coastal sage scrub throughout southern and central California. It grows around our San Luis Obispo Nursery site. This is a very harsh environment in the summer, very dry and very hot 115 degrees F. It survives it by going summer deciduous.
It comes out of dormancy after the first rain and has flowers by Febuary. White-flowered currant has reddish-brown bark that contrasts with its clean white flowers.The berries start out red and turn nearly black by the time they ripen. They are enjoyed by many birds. In a sunny area it may grow about 6 ft tall and 4 ft wide, making excellent cover for the birds. In the shade it forms a more open bush. It does great without water, under oaks!
*From Las Pilitas Nursery, Escondido, Ca. (www.laspilitas.com)
Of the pink currants, this is probably the most drought tolerant. It has lots of pink flower clusters that are very popular with the hummingbirds. It leaves are very fragrant and it doesn't have any bristles! It does well in sun but is at home under oaks. It is native in Chaparral, Central oak woodland, and closed cone coniferous forest in the coast ranges.
Canyon gooseberry is a drought tolerant shrub with red and white flowers. Older branches have few thorns. However, it shouldn't be planted near walk ways. (There is one in our demonstration garden that likes to catch passerbys.) It has shiny green foliage and erect branches.
Pink sierra currant is similar to R. sang. glut. but it grows at higher elevations. It has large pink flower clusters and no thorns. The leaves are large, soft, and fragrant. It can tolerate being over watered as ell as drought conditions.
Ribes quercetorum, Yellow Gooseberry
Yellow gooseberry is nearly always associated with deciduous oaks in the wild, usually right along the drip line of the oak. In our garden it is growing under a box elder so their oak affiliation is not set in stone. It does seem to be happiest there however. Yellow gooseberry makes a tight little shrub a few feet tall with weeping branches and yellow flowers. It has black berries. It is very drought tolerant.
Sierra gooseberry has flowers that are more burgundy colored than red. The bark is brownish. It grows about 3 feet tall.
This is a very classy looking shrub. It has many large pendulant pink flower clusters and large fragrant leaves. It is very drought tolerant and does well under oaks. Hummingbirds love it and it smells great.
This guy is really prickly but it also as beautiful flowers. It grows great along the coast in shade or full sun. it likes water. The fruits. Santa Lucia gooseberry has spiny purple fruits
Fuchsia-flowering gooseberries is favored by hummingbirds over other Ribes flowers. Its nectar has a higher sugar content. The flowers are very long and bright red. The leaves are deep green in color and shiny. It grows in part shade at our Santa Margarita nursery garden. Which means it will do fine in milder climates in full or part shade. I have also seen it in full shade. It is very drought tolerant, going summer deciduous.
An evergreen currant? Yep. It doesn't look much like any other currant in California. It has shiny dark green leathery leaves, red bark, and small purplish flowers. It does well under oaks.
Sticky currant has large pinkish flower clusters and large fragrant leaves. It is native to northern California.