Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana

AKA Cascara or Cascara sagrada. This is a widespread small tree to shrub in the northwestern part of the United states. West of the Cascades  its found in almost every biome. It can be a wind contorted shrub on blasting headlands at the coast. In the Willamette Valley its common where birds drop the berries/seeds on fence rows. Its even found in the Bitteroot mountains in Montana/Idaho. It was frequently used by indigenous people as a laxative. Cascara is a small round crowned tree/shrub. In drier locations it is more shrub like but in deep, rich soil with access to water it can grow to be a thirty five foot tree. Large round alternate leaves turn dark green and glossy in summer. In May and June the tiny greenish flower appear and transform into red fruits by autumn. This is the mechanism that makes this plant so widespread, its dispersal by birds. A lovely little straight trunked shade tree that requires almost no water once established. It functions as an understory component as well. Full sun to quite a bit of shade, including dry shade. Easy to grow and climate adapted. Average life span 35 years. In winter its very symmetrical open branch structure is handsome. Fall color is soft yellow to chartreuse and not especially showy. Oregon native plant

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Frangula (Rhamnus) californica ‘Leatherleaf’

A really cool version of California Coffeeberry which is also native to SW Oregon. Thick deep green rounded leaves clothe madder red stems densely on this large shrub that can achieve tree like status with time. Insignificant green flowers transform into brown then black berries eaten by wildlife. Incredibly drought adapted never needing ANY  supplemental water. Well drained soils in full sun. To 9′ x 9′ in 8 years. Pruning can keep it lower and it would make an admirable hedge. Cold hardy to near 0ºF. Not bothered by deer and one of the best deer resistant hedges for rural areas. It grows quickly with little to no irrigation.

Oregon native plant

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Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
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