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Frangula californica ssp. californica

Frangula californica (Eschsch.) A. Gray ssp. californica

California Buckthorn, Coffeeberry

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)

Synonym(s): Rhamnus californica, Rhamnus californica ssp. californica


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I)

A variable species with many subspecies throughout its range. It is an upright/rounded to low/spreading shrub from 3-15 ft. tall. The evergreen or persistent leaves are shiny light green and oblong. Flowers are creamy-white in clusters and are followed by green or black but usually dark-red berries.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


Native Distribution: S. OR Coast Ranges through most of CA into NV, AZ & Baja
Native Habitat: Dry, sandy or rocky slopes, ravines & hillsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rocky or sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: A tough, desirable plant. Usually deer proof.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Germination of seeds is easy. Cuttings are difficult. Seeds should be cleaned of pulp before sowing.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment seems necessary. If seeds have been stored, dormancy can be broken with a cool-moist stratification period.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Frangula californica ssp. californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Frangula californica ssp. californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Frangula californica ssp. californica


Record Modified: 2022-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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