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24 responses to “The Great Hollyleaf Redberry Mystery”

  1. Kaprise

    so cool!!! thanks for sharing!

  2. Lynn

    Great story Hank! I saw you first share these on FB and had a researching session with a friend that afternoon. I think I’ve seen these on a bush in the area. Your luminous and glowing description makes me think I need to cycle back to that spot for another look.

  3. Charlotte K

    That IS a wonderful, clever story.

    I just learned this year that the fruits of the Kousa dogwood are edible. They are really quite delicious. There are two big trees right outside my office. It took me a while to convince other people to try them and boy were they surprised.

  4. Amber

    Thank you for doing all that research and then sharing it. I live in your region and have seen these around and always assumed they were toxic due to the bright red berries and never found anything saying otherwise. So excited…

  5. margaret christine @ notes from maggie's farm

    An honor to be featured with you on Punk Domestics today. I so appreciate all that you share, as I learn to forage for food, myself. Thank you!

  6. Ken albala

    Hank, Years ago at Ardenwood Farm in Freemont, I was chatting with an old timer whose approach to wild berries was much more cavalier than yours. He said he’d taste a few and wait until the next day – but once he saw a beautiful delicious red berry and couldn’t stop. People warned him not to eat so many, but he did anyway. He said “I jes had to eat those berries.” And the next day he was sick. No idea what became of him in the end. Gasp.

  7. Mojourner

    Thanks Hank,

    An important lesson of this post is that it is often useful t back off to the genus level. Even if you find a match with both the common and scientific name for some plant you _think_ you have identified, it’s good to search the genus for similar, but toxic, species. Think solanum.

  8. Outtake: Foraging for Hollyleaf Redberries | Good Food

    […] Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook Hank Shaw explains how to spot the Hollyleaf Redberry and what to do with it once you find it. Learn more about the Hollyleaf Redberry on Hank’s blog. […]

  9. judith lowry

    Rhamnus crocea ssp illicifolia has been known in the field of native plant horticulture as being difficult to establish in gardens. It’s one of those wild plants that says, “uh uh, no thanks,” to cultivation, yet it is pretty in so many ways, that people still try.

    So I usually look at it wistfully when encountering it on the trail, and I love hearing that those beautiful, juicy, and appealing berries are edible, though it doesn’t grow as far north as my spot in West Marin. Its relative, coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica, is easy to grow in gardens but seems to never have been happily eaten by anyone, anytime.

  10. EVmarc

    hey THANKS
    I couldn’t get any information
    on these red berries
    no one around here knew
    couldn’t identify on web either
    have 20 bushes on my property
    foothills south of Yosemite
    tasty berries
    I have some to eat them for a month
    next year I’ll use your syrup recipe
    as can’t store berries
    will have some jam or something

  11. Bethann kraft

    My Daddy and I were at his place. Onetoena Alabama. Saw this bush with the beatiful berries. Daddy wasn’t sure what it was it jus came up as he put it. This is the berries and bush. Thank you so much for your information.

  12. Chuck Pexa

    Can I purchase this syrup anywhere? I’d like to try it.

  13. Joel Stevens

    Found these while I was mountain biking at Limestone Canyon. Very sweet and delicious. I took some home to eat. I tried a few and waited a few hours, no bad stuff. I’ll eat more and wait a day or two. After that, if not sick, I will plan o get some more and spread a few in the mountains along the way. Reading about them is about as fun as finding and eating them. Thanks for posting the information!

  14. Cheryl

    Thankyou for the research.Have been surfing the net trying to find info.
    New to the south end of Yosemite and trying the native plants.Have made elderberry jam, manzanita jam, and will now add hollyleaf redberry to those.
    Will be visiting your site often!

  15. Kevin

    Thank you so much for this incredible article!!! You really know how to do research, and thanks for describing the steps of your research–I had not known about those databases until now.

    Peace and forage on! 🙂

  16. Neil

    I never got around thanking you. I went hiking by a wildlife preserve last year and they sell plants over there. I wanted a plant of lemonade berry for my brother but they didn’t have any and there weren’t any berries on the plants already established there.

    The guide who looked like he had been in nature way too long told me I might see some on my hike and they would have a very specific leaf and showed me the holly leaf, not knowing much about plants I came across a holly leaf type plant with red berries on it and assuming it was the lemonade berry I tasted some.

    I went back with a small sample and asked him about it and he said that it wasn’t lemonade berry and he didn’t know if what I tried was poisonous. So I went on the internet on my cellphone and found your website so I didn’t have to induce vomiting. Thank you 🙂

  17. Philip schaffer

    Found this to be very helpful i had already eat a few I’m going back for more be aware there reports of caffeine in the fruit and leaves truly amazing planet love life

  18. Kel Barker

    I’m inclined to agree that your Rhamnus Crocea subspecies Iliciflora is edible. On the other hand, it’s classified as poisonous and toxic by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute. Search under Hollyleaf Redberry.

  19. Mellisa

    Thank you! I first saw this berry more than 10 years ago and it wasn’t until last year I found it in an edible plants of California field guide.
    I’m so glad I did! I love them.

  20. Art

    Yes I tried these berries today and they are incredibly sweet and very tasty

  21. Mechanoid Dolly

    I enjoy the Rhamnus red berries, they cool juicy burst of flavor is a delight during a hike in Southern California.

  22. Stacey Hebrard

    Thankyou somuch for this info the bushes are full of birds and look so much like holly berries and the jagged edges of the leaves .. had no clue as to what they were in late june!

  23. Melissa Sutton

    Thank you.
    Just recently noticed the red berries on this bush when we saw it covered with bluebirds enjoying the berries. We just thought it was a scrub oak. (Maybe the berries have always been eaten before we had a chance to notice.) It’s always a wonderful surprise to discover something new here in Tehachapi.

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