Bot. Beechey Voy., 346. 1839 ,.
Plants 0.6–1.4 m. Stems erect, glabrous; spines at nodes 3, 5–15 mm; prickles on internodes absent. Leaves: petiole ca. 0.5 cm, tomentose; blade roundish, shallowly 3(–5)-lobed, cleft nearly 1/4 to midrib, 1–3 cm, base truncate, surfaces glabrous, glabrate, or hairy, not glandular, lobes broadly oblong, sides parallel, margins with 2–4 blunt teeth, apex rounded. Inflorescences ascending, solitary flowers or 2–3-flowered racemes, 1.5–4 cm, axis glabrous or with few stipitate glands, flowers evenly spaced. Pedicels not jointed, 6–8 mm, pubescent, sparsely stipitate-glandular; bracts broadly ovate, 3–5 mm, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Flowers: hypanthium greenish, broadly tubular, 2 mm, glabrous or puberulent; sepals not overlapping, reflexed, dark red or green tinged with dark red, deltate-ovate, 6–8 mm; petals connivent, erect, white, oblong, inrolled, 2–4 mm; nectary disc not prominent; stamens 0.9–4 times as long as petals, sometimes slightly shorter or longer than petals; filaments linear, 6–8 mm, glabrous; anthers greenish yellow, lanceolate, somewhat sagittate, 1.8–2 mm, apex apiculate; ovary with longer, glandless bristles among gland-tipped hairs; styles connate nearly to middle, 8–10 mm, glabrous. Berries palatable, red, globose, 9–10 mm, bristles stiff, glandular and eglandular.
Varieties 2 (2 in the flora).
Ribes amarum, R. binominatum, R. californicum, R. lobbii, R. menziesii, R. roezlii, and R. speciosum formed a clade sister to R. velutinum in the analyses of L. M. Schultheis and M. J. Donoghue (2004). These western taxa have stamens with relatively long filaments and anthers that are short-apiculate with indehiscent tips, and most have deep red or pink, reflexed sepals and erect, mostly white petals that form a tube. Based on these morphologic characters, R. marshallii, R. thacherianum, and R. victoris Janczewski also belong here. Taxa have been recognized at specific, subspecific, or varietal level within this striking group; the entire complex requires more study.
Ribes californicum occurs in the Coast Ranges from Mendocino County to the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Mountains.