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Catalina Cherry
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Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

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About Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii) Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii) is a native tree that grows in Southern and Central California, primarily in the Channel Islands region. though with some specimens in the coastal Southern California mainland. It is fast growing once established, and moderately long-lived. It grows in an upright form to a height of 40 feet, with active growth during the spring, summer, fall. Older trees are said to resemble Coast Live Oak. Flowers are white and striking, and bloom in the late spring. Leaves are medium green, shiny, and remain on the plant throughout the year. The fruit is edible but is best left to the birds. The fruits stain concrete so be careful where you place it. It tends to grow in slopes, at elevations from 0-2000 feet.

This plant is fairly easy to grow, and will tolerate summer water once or twice a month. It does well in either sun or part shade, and can handle a wide variety of soils. It hybridizes readily with the other subspecies, and most trees sold in nurseries are probably of hybrid origin.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Tree, Shrub

Max. Height
25 - 40 ft (7.6 - 12.2 m)

Max. Width
20 ft (6.1 m)

Upright, Rounded, Upright Columnar


Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate


Flower Color
White, Cream

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Slopes, canyons and coastal plains on the Channel Islands and scattered locations on the mainland among chaparral and coastal sage scrub.

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
0' - 1789'

Annual Precip. ?
8.6" - 24.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 0.40"

Coldest Month ?
46.3° F - 57.3° F

Hottest Month ?
62.3° F - 78.0° F

Humidity ?
1.13 vpd - 21.72 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10 - 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Island companion plants include Santa Cruz Island Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius), Island Live Oak (Quercus tometella), Tree Poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), Island Bristleweed (Hazardia detonsa), Redflower Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens), Island Snapdragon (Gambelia speciosa), and Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea). Other chaparral and sage scrub companions include California Encelia (Encelia californica), California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), and Ceanothus spp

Wildlife Attracted
Birds love the fruit. Insects are attracted to the flowers.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1x/month, 2x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Prune to shape while the tree is young, especially if the intent is for a single trunk tree or a hedge.

Pest Control
Said to be resistant to oak root fungus. Gopher are attracted to the roots so remove gophers at the first sign.

Propagation ?
Seeds or cuttings (bottom heat is said to be helpful)

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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