For an edible addition to a native landscape, plant a Hollyleaf cherry tree (Prunus ilicifolia) or its subspecies Catalina cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp lyonii). Catalina cherry is more tree-like compared to the hollyleaf variety, which includes a shrub-like growth tendency. Although not commonly grown commercially, the cherries of this plant are edible and they attract birds to your garden. Hollyleaf cherries grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11.
Hollyleaf cherry fruits are dark red to bluish black, involving sloping to 1 inch in diameter. The flesh is sweet and hot. This tasty native cherry could be more commercially feasible if it weren’t for the massive pit in the middle surrounded by a thin layer of fruit. Hollyleaf cherries are favored by birds and other wildlife as well as humans.
Fall is the time to crop hollyleaf cherry fruits. Cherries ripen very best when allowed to fully mature on the tree. To harvest, only pluck the fruits, including the long stem, in the trees, making sure to leave the knobby part at the top of the stem where it spreads to the tree. This component, known as the fruit spur, is that the stage where next year’s crop will expand from. Cherries ripen over several weeks in autumn. Harvest daily because the fruits are ripening to acquire the cherries in their sweetest.
Even though the fruit is tasty and sweet, traditionally, the primary usage of the hollyleaf cherry is the kernels. Native Californians ground the kernels into flour for use in baking as well as other traditional foods. Like other kinds of cherries, hollyleaf cherries have a pit covered with the kernel and then encased in fruit. The pit is poisonous and has to be removed. When the pit is eliminated, the rest of the kernels may be cooked whole or ground to a flower.
Great fresh, dried or cooked, the hollyleaf cherry may be used as you’d utilize commercial cherries. The fruits are exceptionally juicy, ideal for making into juice or juice for a sweet wine since the indigenous Californians did. Cooked cherries are made into preserves, jams and jelly, or frozen for use during the year. When selecting hollyleaf cherries, it is worth leaving a couple of fruits behind to encourage birds to see your garden through the autumn and early winter.