Rhamnus crocea, Redberry Buckthorn
Scientific Name: Rhamnus crocea
Common Name: Redberry Buckthorn
Also Called: Hollyleaf Buckthorn, Holly-leaf Buckthorn, Redberry, Red-berry Buck-thorn, Spiny Redberry
Family: Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn Family
Synonyms: (Rhamnus crocea var. crocea)
Size: Up to 6 feet or so; (13 feet max).
Growth Form: Shrub, tree; bright green with hollylike leaves and bright-red fruits, stem bark gray, multiple branches, spreading, stiff, some branches tipped with thorns; glabrous; with terminal bud scales.
Leaves: Green; evergreen; leaves variable, obovate, ovoid or sub-orbicular, leaf margins dentate or entire; leaves with small petioles; leaf surfaces glabrous, leaf veins not prominent.
Flower Color: Yellow; inflorescence 1-6 flowered with pedicels, flowers unisexual; 4 sepals, petals 0; fruit showy bright red berries, globose.
Flowering Season: March to May, possibly again in October with ample rainfall.
Elevation: 3,000 to 7,000 feet; below 3,000 feet in California.
Habitat Preferences: Common in chaparral and in open coniferous forest; coastal-sage scrub, chaparral and woodlands in California.
Recorded Range: Rhamnus crocea is relatively rare in the United States where it is found only in Arizona and California. Although common where found. In Arizona it is occurs throughout most of state in preferred habitats. A coastal species in California. Also native to Baja California and northern Mexico.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Rhamnus crocea.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America Rhamnus crocea is listed as a Noxious Weed by the state of Iowa; The Iowa weed law (2003). Iowa Department of Agriculture & land Stewardship; all members of the genus Rhamnus, (except R. frangula) considered a Primary noxious weed. Plants included here are invasive or noxious.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Utah each have 2 species of Rhamnus, California has 5 species, Nevada has 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
There are 3 subsp. in Rhamnus crocea, 1 subsp. excluded;
Rhamnus crocea subsp. crocea, Redberry Buckthorn (AZ, CA);
Rhamnus crocea subsp. insula, (excluded);
Rhamnus crocea subsp. pilosa, Hollyleaf Buckthorn (CA, AZ?).
Comments: Redberry Buckthorn is very similar to Holly-leaf Buckthorn, Rhamnus ilicifolia. Rhamnus crocea may be used as an ornamental and is sold commercially. This species is browsed by deer and bighorn sheep.
Rhamnus crocea is used for food by North American indigenous peoples.
Cahuilla Food, Fruit, Berries used for food.
See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.