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John O. Sawyer, Jr., except as noted

[Perennial herb] shrub, tree, generally erect, often thorny. Leaf: simple, generally alternate, often clustered on short-shoots; stipules generally present, occasionally modified into spines; generally petioled; blade pinnate-veined or 1–5-ribbed from base. Inflorescence: cyme, panicle, umbel, or flowers 1 or clustered in axils or on short-shoots. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium subtending, surrounding, or partly fused to ovary; sepals 4–5; petals 0, 4–5, generally clawed; stamens 0, 4–5, alternate sepals, attached to hypanthium top, each generally fitting into a petal concavity; disk (0 or) between stamens, ovary, thin to fleshy, entire or lobed, free from ovary, adherent or fused to hypanthium; ovary superior or ± inferior, chambers [1]2–4, 1–2-ovuled, style 1, stigma entire or 2–3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, drupe.
50–52 genera, 950 species: especially tropics, subtropics some cultivated (Ceanothus; Frangula; Rhamnus; Ziziphus). [Richardson et al. 2000 Amer J Bot 87:1309–1324] —Scientific Editors: Steve Boyd, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Brizicky 1965 J Arnold Arbor 45:439–463; Richardson et al. 2000 Kew Bull 55:311–341]

Key to Rhamnaceae

Shrub, small tree. Stem: branches alternate, flexible; winter bud scales 0. Leaf: scattered along branches or clustered on short-shoots, deciduous or not; stipules generally deciduous; petioled; blade veins prominent or not. Inflorescence: umbel or flowers 1 in axils. Flower: bisexual; hypanthium 1–3 mm wide, cup-shaped; sepals 5, erect, fleshy, keeled adaxially; petals 5, short-clawed; stamens 5; disk thin, adherent to hypanthium; ovary ± inferior, chambers 2–3, 1–2-ovuled, stigma 2–3-lobed. Fruit: drupe, 2–3[4]-stoned.
50 species: temperate, w. Med, Eurasia. (Frangible: capable of being broken) [Sawyer & Edwards 2007 Madroño 54:172–174] Often a subg. of Rhamnus; some of value in food, medicine.
Unabridged references: [Bolmgren & Oxelman 2004 Taxon 53:383–390; Wolf 1938 Rancho Santa Ana Bot Gard Monogr 1.]

Key to Frangula

F. californica (Eschsch.) A. Gray CALIFORNIA COFFEE BERRY
Shrub < 5 m. Stem: bark bright gray, brown, or red; twigs brown, gray, or red, glabrous, tomentose, or hairs of 2 lengths; terminal bud glabrous to velvety. Leaf: generally evergreen; petiole 3–10 mm; blade 20–100 mm, elliptic to ovate, ± leathery, ± glabrous to tomentose, base acute to rounded, tip truncate to acute or mucronate, margin entire to toothed, ± rolled under or not, veins generally prominent. Inflorescence: 5–60-flowered; pedicel < 20 mm. Flower: hypanthium 1–2 mm wide. Fruit: generally 2-stoned, 10–15 mm, black. [Rhamnus californica Eschsch.] Subspecies intergrade in intermediate habitats. [Online Interchange]
Unabridged note: Frangula californica grows throughout most of California and the subspecies are somewhat separated geographically, but intermediates and variants in California exist between all the subspecies except subsp. ursina (C.B. Wolf 1938). In California, Frangula californica subsp. ursina occurs only in San Bernardino Co., Frangula californica subsp. californica is the most coastal, growing from the western Klamath Mountains south to Agua Tibia Mtn in southern California., Frangula californica subsp. occidentalis is characteristic of mafic and ultramafic substrates in northwest California; plants on other substrates approach Frangula californica subsp. californica, but leaf blades are equally green (not yellow-green) on both surfaces. Wolf reported that "from San Francisco Bay region to Santa Barbara Co. is a form of Rhamnus californica in which the leaves are whitened beneath, but upon examination show pubescence much shorter than that in Rhamnus tomentella. In older leaves it often disappears. This form is very abundant". Plants in Los Angeles and Orange counties have leaf blades with sparse (not dense) tomentum and a few long hairs beneath as in Frangula californica subsp. cuspidata. Intermediates between Frangula californica subsp. crassifolia and Frangula californica subsp. tomentella are rare in northern California, but many plants in San Diego Co. "have leaves narrowly to broadly elliptical and many would pass for Frangula californica subsp. crassifolia in the Inner Coast Range." He considered these plants variants of Frangula californica subsp. tomentella. Some plants in southern Oregon vary in leaves from those of Frangula californica subsp. occidentalis. The Frangula californica complex needs study using modern techniques.

F. californica subsp. occidentalis (Greene) Kartesz & Gandhi
Plant < 2 m. Stem: twigs brown, glabrous. Leaf: blade 20–80 mm, ovate to elliptic, ± yellow-green, glabrous, base rounded, tip acute, rounded, or truncate, veins not prominent. Fruit: 3-stoned.
Chaparral, woodland on serpentine; < 2300 m. Klamath Ranges, Outer North Coast Ranges, n Sierra Nevada Foothills; southwestern Oregon. [Rhamnus californica subsp. occidentalis (Greene) C.B. Wolf] Mar–Jun [Online Interchange]
Unabridged synonyms: [Rhamnus occidentalis Howell ex Greene; Rhamnus californica var. occidentalis (Howell ex Greene) Jeps.; Rhamnus californica subsp. occidentalis (Howell ex Greene) C.B. Wolf]
Unabridged note: Expanded author citation: Frangula californica subsp. occidentalis (Howell ex Greene) Kartesz & Gandhi

Previous taxon: Frangula californica subsp. cuspidata
Next taxon: Frangula californica subsp. tomentella


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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Mar 31 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Frangula, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Mar 31 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Frangula californica subsp. occidentalis Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.