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Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii (Catalina cherry)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) D. Dietr. ssp. lyonii (Eastw.) P.H. Raven

Catalina Cherry, Hollyleaf Cherry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Synonym(s): Prunus lyonii

USDA Symbol: prill

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Evergreen tree with broad crown of spreading branches, glossy leaves, and dark purple cherries.

Planted as an evergreen, ornamental, and hedge plant in California, Catalina Cherry grows rapidly and is drought-resistant. Native Americans ate the fresh and dried cherries, which can also be made into jam; birds are also fond of the fruit. It is currently considered an island subspecies of the Hollyleaf Cherry, which is usually smaller and shrubby and has smaller, rounded, spiny-toothed leaves, fewer flowers, and smaller fruit.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 50 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

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


Native Distribution: Channel Islands of California; also reported in Baja California; to 3000' (914 m).
Native Habitat: Moist soils of canyons and on dry ridges; in chaparral.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium


Use Wildlife: Birds are fond of the fruit.
Use Food: Native Americans ate the fresh and dried cherries, which can also be made into jam.
Warning: The seeds of all Prunus species, found inside the fruits, contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable be
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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

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 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 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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