San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia) Rhus integrifolia
Lemonadeberry

ANACARDIACEAE (Sumac or Cashew Family)

Description

Lemonadeberry is an evergreen shrub or small tree. It can reach up to ten feet in height. The trunk is short and stout. The thick, waxy leaves are oval shaped and flat to slightly inrolled. Lemonadeberry produces clusters of small white to rose-pink flowers. The fruit is a sticky, flattish drupe that is covered with a fine reddish-brown down.

Range and Habitat

Lemonadeberry can be found in chaparral and coastal sage scrub areas of Southern California from Santa Barbara to Baja California. It prefers dry areas under 2600 feet in elevation which face the ocean.

Natural History

The plant blooms from February through May. It is said that the Kumeyaay would put the leaves of the Lemonadeberry in the corners of their mouths to quench their thirst on long journeys. The berries can either be soaked in water or crushed into water to make a bitter tasting drink that is somewhat like lemonade.

Text by Connie Gatlin
Photo credit: Liz Paegel

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