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Coffee Berry
Frangula californica
About Coffee Berry (Frangula californica) Nurseries Show All Photos The California Buckthorn is also called coffeeberry because its berries contain seeds which look like coffee beans. It is a fairly common plant native to California and southwestern Oregon. It is a dense evergreen shrub growing to 6-15 feet tall, with dark red branches. The leaves are an attractive dark green with reddish tint, 1-3 inches long, with a curl under at the edges. The flowers are inconspicuous, small and greenish-white with five petals; they are produced in clusters of 5-60 together. The plant is prized more for its fruit, a berry 10-15 millimeters in diameter, which turn red, then purple and finally black over the summer. It is valued by birds. This plant is beautiful and easy to grow. It tolerates a wide variety of soil types, and likes either full sun or part shade. It is moderately garden tolerant, and is OK with light summer water up to 2x per month. Coffeeberry has a dense form and is easy to prune. It makes a great and fire resistant hedge. There are six subspecies, some of which are restricted to certain parts of its range or certain growing requirements. There are also a number of horticultural varieties including 'Eve Case' and 'Mound San Bruno'. Check for the one that best fits your locations and conditions.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
6 - 15 ft (1.8 - 4.6 m)

Max. Width
5 - 15 ft (1.5 - 4.6 m)

Mounding, Rounded, Spreading


Growth Rate


Flower Color
Cream, Green, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
This species is found in a wide variety of settings and habitats across the state, including coastal strand, foothill woodland slopes, sage scrub flats, chaparral, evergreen forest in mountain areas, rocky outcrops, sandy areas, stream banks, pinyon-juniper woodland in desert transition, and creosote bush scrub in high desert

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-261' - 13935'

Annual Precip. ?
3.5" - 156.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 5.90"

Coldest Month ?
11.6° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
34.8° F - 81.9° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 34.79 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils, but some subspecies have specific soil affinities

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium

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

Companion Plants
Because the species is found in various habitats throughout the state and is tolerant of garden conditions, it can be combined with a wide variety of trees and shrubs.

Wildlife Attracted
Various birds are attracted to the fruits and seeds

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Takes pruning well. Upright forms may be pruned to form a hedge.

Propagation ?
Seeds or cuttings.  For propagating by seed: Fresh seeds need no treatment; stored seeds 3 mos. stratification.

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Rhamnus californica

Common Names
California Buckthorn, California Coffeeberry

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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