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Products > Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case'
Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case' - Coffeeberry

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorns)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Greenish White
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Frangula californica]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: <15 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case' (Coffeeberry) - A selection of the California native Coffeeberry. This evergreen shrub is more compact than the species but can still be seen growing to a large mound to 8 to 10 feet by as wide, though 4-6 feet tall is more common and size can be maintained by selective pruning. It has 3 inch long dark green leaves on reddish stems and inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers that are followed by showy berries that are first green then red and finally black when ripe. Grows in sun or light shade. Drought tolerant. Cold hardy to 5 F and possibly a bit colder. A hardy fast growing shrub that can grow in most soils, but prefers sandy soil - more of a challenge in heavier soils and away from the coast. This plant was Introduced in 1975 by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation. It was the result of a complex seedling selection process directed by Barrie Coate utilizing Rhamnus californica 'Seaview' as a parent. Seaview was a cultivar introduced by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation in 1957. For more information see our listing on the species, Rhamnus californica. We also grow the cultivars 'Leatherleaf'. and 'Mound San Bruno'. Recent nomenclatural changes have given rise to a name change for this plant to Frangula californica - we continued to list it as Rhamnus californica until this name has wider recognition. We often get inquiries about whether the berries of Rhamnus californica (or Frangula californica as it is now called) are poisonous. We have grown the species and several cultivars for many years and did not list it as poisonous. It is not listed in Thomas Fuller and Elizabeth McClintock in Poisonous Plants in California, the book we typically rely on for such information, but is does make it onto various poisonous plant lists such as the one included in California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, Dave Fross and Bart O'Brien and on Dr. Ann King Filmer's list on the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences website Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. While there is some indication that aboriginal Californians may have used the berries as a food source and some suggest the fruit can be used to make a coffee like beverage, a jam or even be eaten raw, the general consensus is that if one eats enough of the berries or they are particularly sensitive, then it could make one sick. Another way to judge this is that, while this plant does come up on poisonous plant lists, it does not come up on any credible edible plant or forage plant lists. Compared to much more toxic plants, it seems clear that Rhamnus californica is not very poisonous, but enough so that we have decided to note on our website that Rhamnus californica be considered a poisonous plant.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case'.