Rhamnus californica

California Coffeeberry

rhamnus_californica

Coffeeberry is a tough candidate for that hard to fill niche of an evergreen native shrub and the bonus is that it attracts birds, is very drought tolerant and deer resistant, fire resistant, and even makes a good hedge or screen.  Coffeeberry is native from southern Oregon continuing south all the way into Baja and gets its name from the dark berries that change from red to almost black.  The flowers are inconspicuous but the birds definitely notice the berries.  Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more woodland areas.  It has a more spreading, low habit when grown in coastal conditions.  Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden.  In the Rogue Valley it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it preferes a sandy, well-draining soil. It is truly a xeriscape plant- once established, it can survive on no irrigation.  To keep it more fire resistant, a deep soak every two weeks is recommended.  The leaves are long and pointed and a matte green with a paler underside.  The named variety 'Eve Case'  has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall.  We have found it to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established.  They may have a tendency to chew the new growth but will leave it alone when it gets some size.  If you haven't used natives before try out this low maintenance shrub to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable natives can be.