Hollyleaf cherry or Evergreen cherry is a species in the Rosaceae (Rose) family that is native to coastal California and northern Baja California. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to 15 meters tall, with dense, sclerophyllous foliage. The leaves are 1.6-12 centimeter long with a 4-25 millimeter petiole and spiny margins, somewhat resembling those of the holly, hence its English name; they are dark green when mature and generally shiny on top, and have a smell resembling almonds when crushed. The flowers are small (1-5 millimeters), white, produced on racemes in the spring. The fruit is a cherry 12-25 millimeter diameter, edible and sweet, but contains little flesh surrounding the smooth seed. Great for birds.
There are two recognized subspecies; ssp. lyonii (commonly known as Catalina Island Cherry) is native to the Channel Islands. It was formerly considered a separate species, and it is very similar in appearance and genetics to other P. ilicifolia. They hybridize readily, and many plants sold in nurseries may be unintentional hybrids.
Sun: Full Sun, Part Shade
Moisture: Very Low
Summer Irrigation: Max 1x / month once established
Ease of Care: Very Easy
Cold Tolerance: Tolerates cold to 15° F
Soil Drainage: Fast, Medium
Soil Description: Tolerant of a variety of soils but will grow largest and fastest in coarse, fast draining, relatively fertile garden soil. Soil PH: 5.0 – 8.0
Common uses: Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens
Companion Plants: Works with a wide variety of other trees and plants, including Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.), Coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis), Barberry (Berberis sp.), Ceanothus sp., Redbud (Cercis occidentalis), Tree Poppy (Dendromecon rigida), Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Bushmallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus), Pines (Pinus sp.), Oak (Quercus sp.), Flannelbush (Fremontodendron sp.), Currant (Ribes sp.), and many others.
Site Type: Slopes of the coast-facing mountains, extending inland to the desert transition and 1,600 m elevation
Climate: Annual Precipitation: 4.6″ – 52.9″
View Calflora for more information
Pick -up of purchased plants will be Saturday, November 7, from 9 am to noon at the CNPS pick-up location off of Broad St in San Luis Obispo. (Note: there is no actual address for this location. It is at the East end of Francis Street in San Luis Obispo, behind Rizzoli’s Auto Repair. Please park on Francis St. while picking up plants.) A sign will be posted on the street. GPS coordinates for Pick-up location: Lat: 35.266967 degrees, Long: -120.651302 degrees. Please only place your order if you are able to pick up your plants on November 7, from 9 am to noon. There are no options for other pickup times or dates, or shipping of these live plants.