Prunus ilicifolia

Hollyleaf Cherry

Prunus ilicifolia cherry

This densely branched evergreen shrub can grow from 3' to 30' tall, can be trained as a hedge (thick with shiny, spiny leaves) or pruned into a tree. In late spring it is covered with hazy masses of small white flowers (pictured below); these mature in summer from green balls to large red-purple cherries. The pulp is sweet but thin, as the stones are large. However, birds love them; we literally blinked and most of ours were gone. Prunus ilicifolia is also a host plant for the Pale Swallowtail butterfly.

Hollyleaf Cherry takes full sun, and although it is drought tolerant, it responds nicely to occasional deep watering – which will help it achieve larger sizes. Buy a small plant to start; in under two years, a 1-gallon specimen we bought which receives supplemental water outgrew a 5-gallon plant in a drier location; in just four years, it has become a nice 6' tall shrub.

Prunus ilicifolia flowers

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