This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.
Size: 8 to 30 feet tall
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Bloom season: Early spring
Pruning needs: Little or none; shape as desired
Exposure: Full sun
Water needs: Once it’s established, water it deeply once or twice a month.
Snapshot: This attractive California native grows into an evergreen large shrub or small tree that’s useful as a living screen or tall hedge in low-water gardens. White flowers in spring provide pollen and nectar for insects and are followed by edible (although maybe not very palatable) fruit for birds. Native Americans fermented these “cherries” to drink. This tough shrub is tolerant of clay soils. A subspecies from the Channel Islands of Southern California, Catalina cherry ( Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii) has slightly longer and larger leaves and grows to tree-like proportions. See specimens in the arboretum’s Desert Collection on the UC Davis campus.
• For more on the New Front Yard, click on
See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.