A picture of a Californian Bearberry

Californian Bearberry

Frangula purshiana

Also known as

Cascara Sagrada, Cascara, cascara buckthorn, bearberry, Chittem Stick

Photo by Cris Waller (CC BY 4.0)

Full Sun
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

More images of Californian Bearberry

A photo of Californian Bearberry
A photo of Californian Bearberry
A close up of some Frangula purshiana flowers
A photo of Californian Bearberry
A close up of a green Frangula purshiana leaf

Californian Bearberry Overview

Frangula purshiana is a deciduous tree or shrub species in the Rhamnaceae family. It is commonly known by the name Cascara Sagrada, which means sacred bark in Spanish. It typically grows between 4-10m in height, the outer bark is brown-grey to silverish and splotchy, the inner bark is smooth and yellow in colour. When the inner bark is exposed to sunlight or ages, it develops a darker colouration. The bark is said to have an intensely bitter and overpowering flavour. Foliage is toothed along the edges and alternately arranged on stems, leaves are borne in clusters near branch tips, they are oval in shape, measuring between 5-15cm in length and 2-5cm in width. Flowers are small, cup-shaped and non-showy, coloured green-yellow, with 5 petals. They appear over a short season, from early to mid-spring and are usually finished by early summer. Flowers lead onto drupe fruits, these measure 0.6-0.1cm across and are coloured bright red, developing to a deep purple-black shade with age. The pulp of these fruits is yellow in colour and they contain 2-3 smooth, hard, olive-green to black seeds.

How to propagate Californian Bearberry




Special features of Californian Bearberry

Attractive leaves

Attracts useful insects

Other uses of Californian Bearberry

Shade, medicinal, ornamental