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Coffeeberry + cultivars

Rhamnus californica


Coffeeberry is an evergreen shrub that is native to many parts of California. Across this range, most plants develop a mounding habit and are highly variable in size from 5 – 10 ft. and occasionally to 15 ft. in height. Leathery leaves grow to 3 in. long, and 1 in. wide; tiny inconspicuous yellow-green flowers occur in spring. Attractive berries mature to red or black in fall that are valued by birds. It is often found on slopes and ridges, in light or heavy soils and in full sun to partial shade.

Coffeeberry grows best with regular winter moisture and then adapts to seasonal summer drought. Its varied size and attractive evergreen foliage make this a useful shrub on slopes and in perimeter garden areas. It grows well in sun to partial shade with other California natives on the Coast Live Oak Native Garden palette and with low amounts of summer irrigation.

Horticultural interest in coffeeberry as led to the selection and introduction of several cultivars for their foliage and colorful berries. Larger cultivars are used as background and screen plants; smaller types are good for borders and on banks, including: R. c. ‘Eve Case’ has large dull green leaves to 3 in. long and grows 3-5 ft. tall and as wide. R. c. ‘Leatherleaf’ is a compact selection that produces smaller dark green leaves and mounds to 5 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. R. c. ‘Mound San Bruno’ is a large mounding shrub with a dense habit, 8-12 ft. tall and as wide.

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Spreading, Mounding
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Insignificant, Green
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Silt, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Fog, Drought, All day sun, Partial sun, Morning sun
Function: Screening, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, California native, Borders, Banks, Background plant, Wildlife value, Attracts butterflies, Slopes
Height: 8 ft. – 10 ft.
Width: 8 ft. – 10 ft.

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