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Rhamnus

Rhamnaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

Grown for form and foliage; clusters of small flowers are rather inconspicuous. Used chiefly as background plantings or hedges. Berries (typically pea size) are enjoyed by birds; volunteer seedlings may be a nuisance.

Rhamnus alaternus

Evergreen shrub or small tree, native to the Mediterranean region. Fast, dense growth to 10–20 ft. tall and wide. Oval, shiny bright green leaves to 2 in. long; small black berries. Easily trained as a single- or multitrunked tree. Takes well to shearing and shaping. Tolerates heat; does well with little or no water but also accepts regular watering.

‘John Edwards’ is a vigorous, fast-growing, long-lived, cutting-grown variety that grows to 15–18 ft. tall and 6–10 ft. wide. Compact ‘Variegata’ (‘Argenteovariegata’) grows to 6–8 ft. tall and equally wide; has cream-edged foliage. If branches with plain green leaves appear, cut them out or they’ll quickly take over. 

Rhamnus crocea

Evergreen shrub, native to Coast Ranges from Northern California into Baja California. Grows to 2–3 ft. tall and 3–6 ft. wide, with many stiff branches, often spiny at the tips. Roundish leaves frequently have finely toothed edges; glossy dark to pale green above, golden or brownish beneath. Small bright red fruit. Takes full sun or partial shade in its native territory; does best with some shade in hotter inland areas. Little water.

Rhamnus ilicifolia

Evergreen shrub, native to Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada foothills, mountains of Southern California, Arizona, and Baja California. Bulky shrub or shrubby tree grows to a possible 15 ft. tall, nearly as wide. Roundish, spiny-toothed leaves. Takes heat and drought; makes a good informal screen. Full sun or partial shade. No irrigation needed.

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