Catalina perfume is the common name for this lovely, tough evergreen currant from Southern California. The round evergreen leaves which do remind one of a Viburnum are resinous and spicily fragrant, especially on warm days. To 3′ tall and spreading about 6′ -this low shrub is best adapted to part shade and little to no summer water. It is incredibly drought adapted. In late winter to mid spring panicle of rose red flowers are light and airy- followed by green fruit. This is an ideal groundcover shrub under native Oaks.  It also makes an almost formal ground cover in landscapes . Found specifically on Santa Catalina in the Channel Islands off of southern CA. There it grows with other Channel island endemics. Tolerates full sun in our climate but its home is beneath the canopy. Water for the first year to establish then none in subsequent years. Not bothered by deer- unsure of rabbits. Prune it if needed after blooming. Blooms on wood from the previous year.  Excellent combined with Vancouveria chrysantha and Camas liechtlinii. for a culture and climate adapted grouping.  Grows very fast when happy.

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Ribes lobbii

Gummy gooseberry is widespread west of the Cascades but is never common. Also known as Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry this delightful native shrub decorates itself in mid spring with pendant red and white flowers. The upper petals are red and the downward pointing petals are white. Large growing deciduous shrub with with three thorns at each node. The gummy part of the name refers to the leaves which are not shiny or sticky but matte and a little rubbery. This differentiates Ribes lobbii from the closely related Sierra Currant Ribes roezlii (with conspicuously sticky  foliage). Large plant that grows very quickly when young. It will slow down when it hits its max height. Native to disturbed sites and it quickly follows fire it prefers soils that are rich and with light summer water to establish then only what falls from the sky. Loved by hummingbirds and birds in general. The prickly currants supply birds and other critters during autumn. Fall color is showy russet/orange/red. This is one of the showiest native currants. Much less common than Flowering Currant Ribes sanguineum it should be grown more. The long cantilevered stems display the pendant flowers in a wonderful way. Not native east of the Cascade crest. 9’x 5′ in 10 years. Moderately deer resistant. Drought adapted when established. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed AFTER blooming has ended. This delightful shrub was once more widespread, logging and settlement have shrunken its natural range. Very pretty spring flowering shrub. Native in the Portland city limits.  Oregon native plant.

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Ribes roezlii

Sierra gooseberry or sticky gooseberry is a pretty if prickly native deciduous shrub for rough areas. Charming in bloom , the 1/2″ pendant flowers have sepals that are reflexed and red around a pendant white corolla. After opening they both change to light red and remain showy for several weeks. They line zig zagging stems with three thorns at each node. That means  you must site this 7′ tall by 4′ wide arching plant carefully. The flowers are pretty viewed up close and turn into prickly translucent green/red drupes. These are eaten by a huge variety of wildlife and especially smaller birds. Often the shrub will be completely stripped of berries by the time the soft orange fall color appears. Native from the Cascades of Marion county south throughout inland California down to San Diego county CA. Its most often found in dry gravelly areas on slopes in full sun to deep woods where its habit is more restrained and open. Blooms appear in mid spring. Water lightly to establish the first summer then only what falls from the sky in subsequent years. Adaptable to dry shade if it is not completely dark. Moderate deer resistance. Very similar to another native Gooseberry Ribes lobbii which is discrete in its dull non sticky leaves. Wonderful native shrub.Rarely seen in habitat below 1000′.  Oregon native plant

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flowers and foliage of Ribes sanguineum

Ribes sanguineum ssp. sanguineum

Flowering Currant. One of the most conspicuous flowering shrubs over the western half of Oregon. From extreme Southwest BC to northern California. .This v shaped and arching shrub protrudes from highway plantings like a chandelier of pink flowers. Each chain of flowers is a slightly different shade of pink to white on this batch of seedlings. To 9′ x 9′ forming  somewhat open shade. Blooms on old wood, prune if needed AFTER flowering has ended in late spring. Fall color ranges from pink to orange and quite often yellow. We had several shrubs of this plant on the property where I grew up. We randomly harvested the branches for cut flowers for almost two generations and none of the plants suffered. They were wild plants and as good as any named variety. Blooms March to April and then maple shaped leaves unfurl and are a quilted nice texture. Full sun to quite a bit of shade at the expense of flowering. Dusty blue fruits cascade in chains as the leaves drop in fall. These are immensely sour fruits.  Best on hillsides poking through the rest of the underbrush. Flowers which have a  slight skunk funk force easily if brought inside. One of Oregons greatest native flowering shrubs. Moderate deer resistance. Water to establish then only occasionally. Oregon native plant.

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Ribes divaricatum

Coast gooseberry or black gooseberry is an intricately branched native deciduous shrub that is incredibly important to wildlife as well as pollinators. Mounding and spreading with fine and prickly needles housed at each node. The maple shaped leaves have a fine skunk aroma up close. To 4′ x 6′ in the extreme this moderately fast growing plant is best in full sun but can handle quite a bit of shade-especially deciduous shade. This species is never common and its found mainly west of the Cascades The small pendulous flower feature red petals surrounding a white corolla. These morph into prickly sour fruits whose final color ripens to black. Fall color is soft yellow to orange and brief. Light consistent summer water in a average to enriched, well drained soil. The berries are edible but intensely sour and make fine food for a wide range of cool birds. Native to the Portland city limits. Excellent shrub for remediation of wild sites. This pretty shrub makes a great transitional plant for wild areas and has a wild look itself. Blooms on wood from the previous season. Prune if needed AFTER flowering.      Oregon native plant

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Ribes laurifolium

Curious low, evergreen, winter blooming shrub that erupts in 3″ long pale, ghost green flowers from January to March. To just 2′ tall and spreading twice as wide its large rubbery, dark evergreen leaves are a great backdrop to the flowers. Just as nice the leaf petioles are a dramatic madder red. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Part shade to high overhead shade. Excellent combined with Hellebores, Cardamine, Cyclamen coum- which all desire the same cultural requirements. Strongly horizontal habit. Blooms on wood from the previous year prune (very lightly) if needed after flowering has ended. Moderate deer resistance. AKA Laurel Leaf Currant. Wonderful on shady hillsides where it lights the winter months.

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Ribes sanguineum ‘Oregon Snowflake’

Excellent improved form of the already popular white flowered Flowering Currant. This form sports foliage that is deeply divided- very pretty- and a more dense and compact habit. Its an incredibly heavy blooming form that has great garden application. To 4′ x 5′ in 7 years with a rounded mounded habit. In late February- April pendant clusters of pure white flowers glow in the early spring sunlight. The buds emerge chartreuse and then become pure sparkling white. This was bred and selected at OSU. And so far has been rare on the market. Full sun to quite a bit of shade with light consistent summer water to establish. Then- it can survive on all that falls from the sky. Takes light irrigation in gardens but never soggy and never soggy during hot weather. Fall color is yellow/orange and brief. Sour fruits are dusky blue in summer. Moderate deer resistance. Derivative of an Oregon native plant. PPAF.

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Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’

This form of the famous eastern U.S. clove currant is fabulous not only because it is resistant to White Pine Blister Rust – and won’t transmit it to those trees- it bears large black, sweet edible fruit in summer. The chains of yellow flowers in March/April emit the adored fragrance of powerful cloves. Detectable quite a ways away. To 4′ x 3′ in 5 years. Full sun to shade in rich to average well drained soil. Light summer water. Very adaptable and extremely hardy to cold. Fall color in our climate is yellow to orange. Self fertile. Protect fruit from birds. They really are a good quality black currant. Native to the summer rainfall eastern U.S. and appreciates water and good care. Provide good air circulation. Blooms on wood from the previous year. Prune if needed AFTER flowering. Limited quantities.

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Ribes malvaceum ‘Dancing Tassels’

Really excellent form of Chaparral Currant with 3″ soft pink flowers that appear at any point during winter well into spring. A summer deciduous shrub to 8′ x 5′ in 7 years. Leaves drop completely by September and then re leaf as fall rains progress. Surprisingly hardy for its origin- California’s Channel Islands.  Full sun to part shade  and well drained average soil. Great on a slope. Loved by overwintering Anna’s hummingbirds. Flowers are surprisingly cold hardy and are undamaged to the upper teens. If those that are open are spoiled by frost more will follow after the thaw. Very very drought tolerant, No supplemental water required when established. Loses most of its leaves in summer drought. Grows fairly quickly and is never a dense shrub- all the better to see the pendant flowers. Dry borders, shrub borders, winter gardens. This shrub loves our climate and is supremely adapted to a winter wet/summer dry regime.  Moderate deer resistance. Excellent winter blooming shrub. A beacon to Anna’s Hummingbirds.

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Ribes x gordonianum

One of the most spectacular of the flowering currants. This hybrid between the yellow eastern Ribes odoratum and our locally native  pink flowered western Ribes sanguineum splits the good looks with chains of coral orange flowers with a faint yellow center. Salmon up close the color reads as orange from farther away. Blooms March/April for weeks on a large spreading shrub for part shade and rich, well drained soil. Consistent summer moisture- do not let it dry completely nor should it ever be soggy. Extremely cold hardy with orange/yellow fall color. To 8′ x 8′ in 8 years. Blooms on wood from the previous year- prune AFTER flowering if needed.

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