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Western California Coffeeberry
Frangula californica ssp. occidentalis
About Western California Coffeeberry (Frangula californica ssp. occidentalis) 2 Nurseries Carry This Plant Western California Coffeeberry (Frangula californica subsp. occidentalis) grows in northern California and southwest Oregon, on serpentine soils. Fruit with three seeds; twigs brown; leaves with inconspicuous veins. In favorable conditions the plant can develop into a small tree over 6 meters tall. More commonly it is a shrub between 1 and 2 meters tall. The branches may have a reddish tinge and the new twigs are often red in color. The alternately arranged evergreen leaves are dark green above and paler on the undersides. The leaves have thin blades in moist habitat, and smaller, thicker blades in dry areas. The small greenish flowers occur in clusters in the leaf axils. The fruit is a juicy drupe which may be green, red, or black. It is just under a centimeter long and contains two seeds that resemble coffee beans. This subspecies of Frangula californica has fruit with three seeds; twigs brown; leaves with inconspicuous veins. It can live an estimated 100 to 200 years.The plant reproduces sexually by seed and vegetatively by sprouting. After wildfire or cutting, the plant generally resprouts from its root crown. Reproduction via seed is most common in mature stands of the plant. It produces seeds by 2 or 3 years of age. Seeds are mature in the fall. Seed dispersal is often performed by birds, which are attracted to the fruit; some plants are so stripped of fruit by birds that hardly any seeds fall below the parent plant. This long-lived plant is persistent and becomes a dominant species in many habitat types, such as coastal woods. In the absence of wildfire, the shrub can grow large, with a wide spread that can shade out other flora. When fire occurs, the plant can be very damaged but it readily resprouts from the surviving root crown, which is covered in buds for the purpose. It reaches its pre-burn size relatively quickly.Parts of the plant, including the foliage and fruit, are food for wild animals such as mule deer, black bears, and many birds, as well as livestock
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type

9.8 - 19.7 ft tall


Flower Color
Flower Color

Wildlife Supported

Landscaping Information
Full Sun, Part Shade


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

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

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Serpentine soils

Annual Precipitation: 21.6" - 156.0", Summer Precipitation: 0.38" - 5.90", Coldest Month: 28.0" - 48.4", Hottest Month: 47.3" - 74.5", Humidity: 0.09" - 22.93", Elevation: 74" - 8911"

Alternative Names
Botanical Names: Rhamnus californica ssp. occidentalis

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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