California native plant of the month: Chaparral currant

Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum) is a deciduous native shrub with fragrant, nectar-rich pink tube flowers that dangle like chandelier clusters. Peeling red-brown bark adds to its beauty, and its fuzzy, lobed leaves emit a spicy-sweet aroma when rubbed or brushed against. After flowering, the plant produces an edible currant that attracts quail, thrushes, robins, finches and more.

It can grow up to 8 feet tall and has an elegant spreading form that complements other California native plants such as coast live oaks, toyon, California lilacs and many more. Use it to attract butterflies, moths, caterpillars, birds and bees. It prefers sunny areas near the coast to partial shade inland. It requires very little water once established but will look better with a little mulch and water in the spring.

The nectar-rich, pink tube flowers of the chaparral currant dangle like chandelier clusters.