Holly leaf cherry fruit looks better than it is. The flavor is good; but there is very little pulp around the big seeds.

Since it is native to coastal chaparral between Monterey and the middle of the Baja California Peninsula, holly leaf cherry, Prunus ilicifolia, is right at home in local gardens of the central and south coasts. Although it can be a nice refined hedge if not shorn too frequently, it is better where it has space to grow wild into a mounding shrub, and can eventually grow into an undemanding informal screen as high and broad as fifteen feet. Width is easier to limit with selective pruning than with shearing. Besides, unshorn plants bloom with clusters of minute white flowers in spring, and produce interesting deep red or purplish red cherries in autumn. Unfortunately, the cherries have very big pits with only minimal sweet pulp. The small glossy leaves have somewhat bristly teeth almost like those of some hollies.

2 thoughts on “Holly Leaf Cherry

    1. I suspect that this sort of prickly foliage is more common here because of the chaparral climate. Coast live oak and most other related oaks here have similar prickly texture. So do some of the ceanothus. It might make them less palatable to grazing deer.

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