Prunus ilicifolia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Prunus ilicifolia
Prunus ilicifolia ne1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. ilicifolia
Binomial name
Prunus ilicifolia
(Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) Walp. 1842
Prunus ilicifolia range map 3.png
Natural range of Prunus ilicifolia (var. ilicifolia green; var. occidentalis blue)
Synonyms[1][2]
  • Cerasus ilicifolia Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn. 1839
  • Laurocerasus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) M.Roem.
  • Lauro-cerasus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) M.Roem.

Prunus ilicifolia (Common names: "Hollyleaf cherry",[3] "Evergreen cherry";[4] "Islay" - Salinan Native American[5]) It is native to the chaparral areas of coastal California (from Mendocino County to San Diego County), Baja California, and Baja California Sur.[4][6] as well as the desert chaparral areas of the Mojave desert.[7][8]

Prunus ilicifolia is an evergreen shrub[3] to tree, producing edible cherries, with shiny and spiny toothed leaves[3] similar in appearance to those of holly. This resemblance is the source of both the common name "holly-leaved cherry" and the scientific epithet "ilicifolia" (Ilex-leaved). It grows 8 to 30 feet (240-900 cm) tall, with thick, alternate leaves 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5.0 cm) in length.[3] It has small white flowers growing in clusters, similar in appearance to most members of the rose family, Rosaceae, flowering from March to May.[3] The flowers are terminal on small stalks, with the youngest at the cluster center. The purple to black fruit is sweet,with a very thick pulp around a large single stone (drupe).[3]

The plant is prized for cultivation, showy and easily grown from seed, and has been cultivated for centuries as a food source, and tolerates twice yearly pruning when often used as a hedge.[3] The plant likes full sun, loose open soil (porous), and tolerates drought conditions well, but needs regular watering when young.[3] Bees are attracted to it.[3]

Native Americans fermented the fruit into an intoxicating drink.[3] "Prunus" comes from the old Latin for "plum". "Ilici - folia means "holly like - leaves".[3] This is the only species of the genus Prunus native to the Santa Monica Mountains that divide the Los Angeles basin from the San Fernando Valley, California.[3]

Description[edit]

Prunus ilicifolia flowers

It is an evergreen shrub[3] or small tree approaching 15 meters (50 feet) in height,[9] with dense, hard leaves[3] (sclerophyllous foliage). The leaves are 1.6–12 cm (0.64-4.8 inches) long with a 4–25 mm (0.16-1.00 inch) petiole[9] and spiny margins, somewhat resembling those of the holly. The leaves are dark green when mature and generally shiny on top, and have a smell resembling almonds when crushed. The flowers are small (1–5 mm), white, produced on racemes in the spring. The fruit is a cherry 12–25 mm diameter, edible[3] and sweet, but contains little flesh surrounding the smooth seed.[9][10][11]

Subspecies[edit]

There are two subspecies:[12][13][14]

Distribution, habitat, and ecology[edit]

Prunus ilicifolia is native to California chaparral and foothill woodlands along the Coast Ranges below 1,600 m.[9] Its distribution extends from Baja Californi Suea along the California coast in the Coast Ranges,[9] as well as into the desert chaparral areas of the Mojave desert. In chaparral communities, it tends to inhabit north-facing slopes, erosion channels, or other moist, cool sites.[4]

It is a persistent member of chaparral communities, being slow-growing but long-lived; common chaparral flora associates are toyon, western poison-oak and coffeeberry.[15] In the absence of fire, P. ilicifolia will outlive or outshade surrounding vegetation, making room for seedlings. Eventually, it will form extensive stands codominated by scrub oak.[4]

Regeneration and seedlings[edit]

Although it will resprout from the stump after fires, the seeds are not fire-adapted like those of many other chaparral plants.[16] Instead, it relies on the natural death of surrounding vegetation during long periods of fire-free conditions to make room for its seedlings.[4]

The seeds are also reported to require sunlight to germinate.[16] However, near 100% germination rates have been achieved with wild-collected seed buried completely in pots with a peatlite mix.[17]

Butterflies[edit]

The caterpillars of the pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) feed on this and other members of the riparian woodland plant community.[14]

Cultivation[edit]

Prunus ilicifolia is used in California native plants and wildlife gardens, and drought-tolerant sustainable landscaping.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Plant List, Cerasus ilicifolia Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn
  2. ^ Tropicos, Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) D. Dietr.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal & Chaparral Regions of Southern California, Nancy Dale, 1985, p172
  4. ^ a b c d e Fire Effects Information Service, USDA Forest Service: Prunus ilicifolia
  5. ^ E.G. Gudde (1946). The Solution of the Islay Problem. California Folklore Quarterly 5 (3): 298-299 (Gudde concludes that the word "islay" originated in a Salinan word slay; Islay was the Spanish version of their word).
  6. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Prunus ilicifolia
  7. ^ Calflora taxon report, University of California, Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt.) Walp., Holly leaved Cherry, holly leaf cherry, hollyleaf cherry
  8. ^ SEINet, Southwestern Biodiversity, Arizona chapter photos and distribution map
  9. ^ a b c d e Jepson Flora: Prunus ilicifolia
  10. ^ Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  11. ^ Conrad, C. E. (1987). Common shrubs of chaparral and associated ecosystems of southern California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-99. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station.
  12. ^ Jepson Flora: Prunus ilicifolia subsp. ilicifolia
  13. ^ Jepson Flora: Prunus ilicifolia subsp. lyonii
  14. ^ a b Schoenherr, A. A. (1993). A Natural History of California. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  15. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (2008) Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), GlobalTwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg [1]
  16. ^ a b Keeley, Jon E. 1987. Role of fire in seed germination of woody taxa in California chaparral. Ecology 68(2): 434-443; cited in FEIS
  17. ^ Mirov, N. T., & Kraebel, C. J. (1937). Collecting and propagating the seeds of California wild plants. Research Note 18: 1-27. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station

External links[edit]