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Plant Database Search Results > Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno'
Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno' - Coffeeberry
Image of Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno'
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorns)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: NA
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [Frangula californica]
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno' (San Bruno Coffeeberry) - A very nice selection of the California native Coffeeberry. This evergreen shrub is more compact than the species, and can typically be found growing to 4-6 feet tall and twice as wide as it is tall with leaves that about half the size typical of the species. Originally thought to make a small mound to only 3 feet tall however the largest plant that we know of has grown to 6 feet tall and is nearly 14 feet wide and we have been told of plants reaching 8 feet tall. The greenish-white flowers are inconspicuous but they do produce many dark red, almost black, berries. Grows in full sun or light shade. Drought tolerant once established. Cold hardy to 5 F and possibly a bit colder. A hardy fast growing shrub that can grow in most soils, but does best in a sandy soil - more of a challenge in heavier soils and away from the coast. This selection was made by Roger Raiche from plants growing on San Bruno Mountain. For more information see our listing on the species, Rhamnus californica. We also grow the cultivars 'Eve Case' and 'Leatherleaf'. 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 new 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. 

This information about Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.