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Plant Informational Database

Catalina Island Cherry

Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii

a.k.a. Prunus lyonii

Edible cherry native to the Channel Islands of Southern California. Fruits ripen to red, are cherry-like in appearance and flavor, although not as sweet.

Seed Availability

Seeds are now available at our seed store.


Shrubby tree, typically to 15-20ft, but larger specimens may reach 30-40ft.


Mature trees are hardy to about 20F.

Growing Environment

Plants grow in a Mediterranean climate, with cool, moist winters and warm, dry summers. They are reasonably drought hardy. Flowering occurs in late winter/spring, followed by fruit ripening a few months later. Fruits are popular with birds. Will grow in most soil types, as long as they drain.


By seed. A note about our seeds (when in stock): Catalina Island Cherries are notorious for cross-pollination with P. ilicifolia. These seeds are grown with no known P. ilicifolia in the immediate vicinity, but it is impossible to guarantee their purity. All cultivated P. lyonii seeds seem to have the potential to produce hybrids with P. ilicifolia.


The fruits are eaten fresh, and were once an important part of the fruit diet for local tribes.

Native Range

Native to the Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California. The tree is often listed as a subspecies of Prunus ilicifolia, the Holly-Leaf Cherry, but is distinctly different from it with easy identification being made in the shape of the leaves. The two plants commonly interbreed in the wild, and it is often difficult to find "pure" strains of the Catalina Island Cherry. Local Adaptation: Grows well along the coasts of California, with fruiting specimens predominating from the San Francisco area and south.

Related Species

Couepia polyandra
Cydonia oblonga
Eriobotrya japonica
Fragaria californica
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Fragaria vesca
Alpine Strawberry
Malus pumila
Prunus ilicifolia
Holly Leaf Cherry
Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii
Catalina Island Cherry
Prunus salicifolia
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