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Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry
Ribes speciosum

About Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum) is one of the most spectacularly blooming native California shrubs during the wet season, with beautiful fuchsia red flowers hanging down in abundance from the branches throughout the bush. The tube shaped flowers with their protruding stamens and stigmas look a little like red dressed ballerinas dancing in a line. The plant grows in a somewhat more upright mounding form, quickly reaching 6-10 feet in height, and 3-8 feet in width under favorable conditions. Its leaves are a beautiful bright green in the wet season, turning dark green as the soil dries. It produces a red-orange berry about a centimeter long, and lots of thorns. The flowers are an important source of food for hummingbirds, and the gooseberry fruit is eaten by many other birds and small mammals. This plant's natural geographic range extends all along the coast and western foothills of southern and central California, from Baja California up to Salinas, and also in the foothills around San Jose. It tends to grows in full or nearly full shade, and in slightly moister spots such as north facing slopes, slope bottoms or near natural drainages.

Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry is easy to grow and hardy. And it is a beautiful plant for about half the year. But unfortunately for landscapers, this plant will typically go deciduous in the summer months and look like a big mound of sticks and thorns. Because of its thorns, it is best to plant away from any walkways or pedestrian traffic. Try placing this plant under trees that can provide shade, and mixed in with other tall evergreen shrubs that can hide the sticks and thorns a bit during the summer. The red flowers will still be visible during winter months.

Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry prefers full or part shade, and moist conditions during the cool season, and dry conditions during the warm season. If planted in its natural range, this plant shouldn't need any supplementary water once established - it's best just to let it go deciduous during the summer. Direct summer watering, especially in poorly draining clay soils, will often kill this plant. If it's planted in very well-draining soil, it can handle light direct watering every few weeks. Indirect watering, or planting Fuchsiaflowering Gooseberry near an irrigated or other year round moist area are fine. But even then the plant will typically go semi-deciduous in the summer.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
6 - 10 ft (1.8 - 3 m)

Max. Width
3 - 8 ft (0.9 - 2.4 m)

Mounding, Rounded


Growth Rate

Summer Deciduous, Summer Semi-Deciduous

Bright green during the wet season, dark green as the soil dries.

Flower Color
Red, Pink

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Shady woodlands and chaparral or coastal sage scrub; seasonally damp slopes

Full Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-247' - 4668'

Annual Precip. ?
10.7" - 40.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 0.79"

Coldest Month ?
41.1° F - 56.3° F

Hottest Month ?
58.6° F - 79.6° F

Humidity ?
0.78 vpd - 25.94 vpd

Soil Description
All different kinds. Avoid summer water in clay soils.

Soil Texture
Clay, Clay Loam, Loam, Loamy Sand, Sand, Sandy Clay, Sandy Clay Loam

Soil PH
4 - 8

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil

Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Scrub Oak, Coast Live Oak, Summer Holly, Toyon, Mission Manzanita

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds, many other bird species, small mammals

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Handles light pruning

Pest Control
Few problems with pests

Propagation ?
root cuttings in water; use hardwood.  For propagating by seed: 3 mos. stratification (Hildreth 1976).

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Hummingbird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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