Like our other local gooseberries, the limbs of Ribes speciosum bristle with thousands of wickedly sharp thorns. As the popular name implies, however, in the case of Fuchsiaflower Gooseberry, the forbidding quality of its spiny branches is offset by an abundance of jewel-like clusters of magenta flowers in spring.
In most of Los Angeles, this plant appreciates a little extra water and dappled morning sun followed by afternoon shade, so placement is key. It will usually thrive within the broad canopy of a mature chaparral shrub like Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon) or Rhus integrifolia (Lemonadeberry), or even in an oak understory.
Once established, it will go almost completely dormant without supplemental summer watering, so if you don’t want plants in your garden that look dead in the summer, either apply a little moisture in the hotter months or plant something else. One or two well-sited plants will quickly form an impenetrable thicket, a convenient refuge for birds fleeing wicked pussycats and other predators.