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Hollyleaf Cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia

About Hollyleaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia) Hollyleaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia) is a native tree or shrub in the Rose family that grows in the coastal strip of northern, southern and central California. It tends to grow in slopes or valleys, at elevations from 0-5200 feet. It grows in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and central oak woodland habitats and can vary greatly in size depending on conditions. In dry, rocky or shallow soils it will be bush-like to 5 ft. In richer soil with more moisture it will attain tree size. The leaves are holly-like and evergreen. The flowers are small and white; the fruit is a one inch dark purple drupe that is popular with wildlife. The closely related subspecies ssp. lyonii is endemic to the Channel Islands, but in appearance and behavior the two are difficult to distinguish and hybridize readily.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
5 - 40 ft (1.5 - 12.2 m)

Max. Width
5 - 20 ft (1.5 - 6.1 m)

Mounding, Rounded, Upright Columnar


Growth Rate


Dark green, holly-like

Flower Color
Cream, White, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Coastal bluffs and terraces, inland slopes, foothills, canyons below 5,200 ft.

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
36' - 6049'

Annual Precip. ?
6.7" - 44.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.78"

Coldest Month ?
38.7° F - 56.4° F

Hottest Month ?
63.0° F - 80.4° F

Humidity ?
0.98 vpd - 31.17 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils but performs best in coarse, well drained soil

Soil PH
4.0 - 7.7


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

Sunset Zones ?
5, 7*, 8, 9, 10, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Wildlife Attracted
Various insects are attracted to the flowers. Birds love the fruits.

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Takes pruning well. Can be pruned into a standard tree or sheared into a hedge. Prune in late fall after fruit is gone.

Propagation ?
Seeds or cuttings

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

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Holly-leaf Cherry, Holly-leaved Cherry

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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