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The Lemonade berry grows into a large evergreen shrub with flexible stems and sprawling habit to 25 ft. tall and as wide. Thick dark green leaves have grow 1-2 in. long; some have blunt teeth on margins. Attractive clusters of white to rose colored flowers are noticeable in late winter to early spring. The hard fruit are often of curious interest as they are covered with a fuzzy coating that tastes of bitter lemon.

Lemonade berry is native to coastal bluffs and inland foothills and offshore islands from Santa Barbara County to northern Baja California. It grows in sunny locations, on well-drained soils, at elevations below 3,000 ft. and within the coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant communities. It is a widely adaptable plant that is often used in combination with other California native species on slopes and in open spaces for revegetation and habitat value. In ornamental gardens it can be clipped to function as a large screen or hedge, and mixed with plants of the Coast Live Oak Palette.

Water Needs

Lemonade berry grows well with normal winter rains and low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; young plants will grow faster and larger with the higher amounts of supplemental moisture in this range.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 25 ft.
Width: 25 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Winter, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Fog, Drought, Coastal salt air, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Screening, Restoration, Parks and open space, Background plant, Attracts butterflies, Hedge


Prune by heading back as much of the new-ish growth as desired and shape to encourage long-term nice form and branching pattern in May (1). Feel free to lightly prune outer branches if shaping is needed in early Fall, but try to reserve any more substantial pruning for late spring (1). Light pinching back over time will encourage denser form. It can even be turned into a formal hedge if desired. Pruning can be used to shape into a small tree or dense hedge. If hedging, remember to taper the hedge, narrower at the top, and wider at the base, so it gets good sunlight access to the entire plant (2). Hedged plants can be cut back two or three times per year. Although it is rare, some people have an allergic reaction to the sap, somewhat like a poison oak rash. Sometimes plants grow very slowly or not much at all after planting, but within a few years begin to grow more rapidly (3)



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