New Front Yard: Island native makes itself at home in shade

02/22/2014 12:00 AM

10/04/2014 12:45 AM

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

Evergreen currant

Ribes viburnifolium

Size: Groundcover (under 18 inches tall).

Bloom season: Late winter, spring.

Pruning needs: Little or none.

Exposure: Partial to full shade.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month.

Snapshot: Also called Catalina currant or island gooseberry, this popular California native thrives where other groundcovers struggle – in the dry shade under oaks. As its nickname implies, it’s native to Santa Catalina Island off Long Beach, but it has spread to several coastal areas in Southern California and northern Baja California. Its shiny, dark-green, fragrant foliage (which exudes a citrusy scent) looks attractive year-round. Besides its landscape assets, this currant supports wildlife. In late winter and early spring, the star-shaped red flowers attract hummingbirds and beneficial insects. In late spring, the plant bears small red berries. You can see specimens in the arboretum’s Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California native plants on the UC Davis campus.

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See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at .

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