10 California Native Fruits – Edible And Tasty!

California and its native fruits are always interesting to explore. Whether they are wild plants or the plants that you can cultivate in your backyard, there are still attractive things to see and try. Moreover, if there are California native fruits and you find it growing outdoors naturally, it must be interesting to see and consume. But you have to ensure that the fruit is ripe and really edible to be eaten. 

If you are planning to go outside for summer vacation and ready to explore California native fruits outside, let’s check out here!

California Evergreen Shrub That Produces Fruits

If you find these kinds of plants outside, you are allowed to try the berries or fruits from these evergreen shrubs. The evergreen shrubs that produce fruits are too many. Yet, you can find the most well-known evergreen shrubs from California here. 

1. Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Although the name of this plant is grape, this fruit is not related to the grape at all. This species of flowering plant belongs to the Berberidaceae family. It is native to Western North America. The Tall Oregon Grape or Mahonia aquifolium, is a state flower of Oregon too. You can find it easily around the mountains and foothills of northern and central California and Southern California. 

california native fruits
Oregon Grape

If you wonder about the height of this evergreen, it can reach up to 6 feet tall and the width is 5 feet. It is quite big and the fruit is edible for you to consume. The taste is very tart, not like a grape as well. And one reason you have to consume it is, it is rich in vitamin C. The appearance of the berries look like grapes due to its color as well. 

california native fruits
Oregon Grape Flowers

Hence the name. Moreover, the flowers of this evergreen are dark dusty blue berries. This plant is drought resistant and tolerates poor soil condition as well. They prefer shade or part shade spots although full sun is not a problem.

2. Toyon (Heteromeles Arbutifolia)

People often think that Toyon is a red berry, in fact it is not. This perennial shrub native to western part of California and Sierra foothills. Another name for this plant is Christmas berry or California holly. 

california native fruits
Toyon (Heteromeles Arbutifolia)
california native fruits
Toyon Fruits

Usually, the plant grows up to 8 feet tall. But in Los Padres National Forest, it can reach over 30 feet tall. The leaves are sharply toothed with 5cm in length and 2cm wide. The small white flowers are produced in the early summer. And the five petals are rounded. The berries are edible for humans, birds and even bears.

3. California coffeeberry (Frangula californica)

Of course it is not about the coffee beans, the name of coffeeberry is given due to the berries containing seeds that look like coffee beans. The real name of this plant is California Buckthorn or Frangula californica. It is a common plant that is native to California and southwestern Oregon. 

california native fruits
Coffee Berries
Coffee Berries Fruits
Coffee Berries Fruits

You can see how stunning the dark red branches and the dense evergreen shrubs that usually grow up to 15 feet tall. Dark green with reddish tint are the iconic leaves color for this plant. The flower clusters are greenish-white with five petals. And the berries’ color is red, then turns into purple, and becomes black when summer comes.

The evergreen shrubs like this are stunning and easy to maintain. Because it tolerates a wide range of soil and is suitable under full sun or part shade area.

4. Big Berry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca)

The plant is native to California and Baja California. The large shrubs like this will be happy if they are planted on rocky slopes. Leaves are light gray-green, oval to nearly round, and smooth or toothed along the edges.

They are up to five centimeters long and four wide and grow on short petioles about a centimeter long. The fruits are around 12 to 15 mm wide and round or egg-shaped. 

Big Berry Manzanita
Big Berry Manzanita
Big Berry Manzanita Fruits
Big Berry Manzanita Fruits

The Arctostaphylos glauca or Big Berry Manzanita fruits have light red color and a thick pulp covered in a tough, sticky coat. There are three to six nutlets fused in a single mass. The fruit contains three to six nutlets fused into a single mass. But you have to know that this plant will not produce any fruits until it is 20 years old. So it is pretty long to wait for it to produce fruits.

5. Catalina Cherry (Prunus lyonii)

This evergreen shrub mainly grows in the Channel Islands region because this one is native to Southern and Central California. The shape of flower clusters are familiar for you with white color and will bloom in the late spring.

Catalina Cherry Flowers
Catalina Cherry Flowers

This fast growing evergreen can reach the height up to 40 feet tall and it is active in almost all seasons except winter. Leaves are medium green, shiny. You may eat the fruits, but people tend to leave it for the birds. Also, you have to be careful while consuming the fruit since its stain is concreted. Because this plant is easy to grow, then this plant can handle a wide variety of soils.

California Native Fruit Trees For Backyard

Having native fruit trees for the backyard is an excellent idea. Furthermore, they are easy to maintain. You can pick one of them or try more than one plant. So that you can harvest the fruits once the fruits ripe. 

6. Elderberries (Sambucus)

You can plant this Sambucus or elderberries species in your backyard easily. Regular water will be a favorite for this one although they can adapt to summer drought as well. Black elderberry is edible to eat for humans but, make sure the fruits are ripe. Also for the best taste, you can cook it together with any meals. 

california native fruits
Elderberries Tree
Elderberries Fruits
Elderberries Fruits

Also, the leaves of elderberries are used for medicinal purposes. It is native to western North America. The plant can grow around 4 to 6 meters. But sometimes it can grow for 10 meters. Elderberries are pollinated by flies.

The fruit is a dark purple to black with 3-5 mm for the diameter and it is produced in drooping clusters in the late autumn. It is not only humans who consume it, but also the birds.

7. Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)

Huckleberry or Vaccinium ovatum is a native shrub in the Ericaceae (Heath) family that grows along the coast primarily in northern and central California, and northward into Canada. It is slow growing and long-lived. It grows in an upright form to a height of 8 feet, with active growth during the spring and summer. 

Huckleberry Bush
Huckleberry Bush
california native fruits
Huckleberry Fruits

The urn-shaped flowers (typical of Ericaceae) are white and bloom all through spring. Fruits are blue or black and edible but best left for the wildlife. Leaves are medium green, and remain on the plant throughout the year. New growth in spring is red. It tends to grow in wet meadows and slopes, at elevations from sea level to 2,600 feet.

8. Avocado (Persea americana)

A good drainage and loose, loamy or sandy soil will be the favorite place for avocado trees. It is considered as an easy to grow or maintain tree in California. So it is good news for you to have it in your backyard.

Warm climates are their favorite time, because they do not tolerate freezing conditions well. But, you have to remember that for growing avocados in the very best condition, you will need a pollinator.

california native fruits
Avocado Tree
Avocado Fruit
Avocado (Persea Americana) Fruit

9. California Wild Grapes (Vitis californica)

The California Wild Grapes or Vitis californicas are found growing throughout central and northern California, and occasionally in southern California. It can grow over 10 meters or 30 feet tall! The leaves are green but they will turn oranges and yellow during fall. The fruits really look like common grapes, since they are edible and sour as well. 

california native fruits
California Wild Grapes
california native fruits
California Wild Grapes Leaves

If you want to grow California wild grapes, you can plant using dry soil but the texture is like soil along the streams and rivers. You can plant them to invite birds and bees to consume its flowers. 

Growing California wild grapes doesn’t need much time because it is extremely fast growing and easy to maintain. It prefers to have its leaves in full sun, and tends to love heavier soils. But, you cannot plant another plant beside this one since it can be extremely aggressive and invasive.

10. Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)

In spring, you can see the golden yellow flowers from this golden currant tree. The fragrance will remind you of the vanilla as well. Therefore, the flowers will attract hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. The size of deciduous shrubs is 6-10 feet tall, it is considered a small to medium plant. But it still fits your backyard. 

california native fruits
Golden Currant (Ribes Aureum) Tree
Golden Currant
Golden Currant

The plant is deciduous from late December to early February. The color of the ripe berries is amber yellow to black. That’s why it is called golden currant. The favorite spot for this plant is the area with more ground water, for example at the bottom of slopes, near creeks or near irrigated areas. 

The full sun exposure is what they are looking for to grow well. But when in the ground, it prefers part shade and does best when surrounded by mulch. You can have it in your backyard since there is no special care once established.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What fruit grows naturally in California?

Berries, such as Black Elderberry, Huckleberry and many more berries grow naturally in California. You can find them growing in such a rocky stone area, riverbank, and other outdoor spots. Usually, since they can grow naturally, if you want to grow them in the backyard, it is not difficult to maintain them

What’s the most popular fruit in California?

Apple is the most popular fruit in California. Moreover, currently, the varieties are increased to grow the apples, including the area as well. So, you can be proud that California and apples are such an inseparable thing, especially across the world.

Can apple trees grow in California?

Yes, apples can grow in California. There are five major regions in which apples are grown in California. Long time ago, apple production was only around the coastal mountains north and south of San Francisco Bay, in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento, and in the Southern California mountains. But now, it has expanded into the Central Valley. The varieties of the apples are increased to, such as Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala.

Can you grow peaches in Southern California?

You can find peaches fruits in Southern California that flourish and produce sweet, delicious fruits all year round. Although growing peaches in Southern California seems tricky because you need the correct soil, the right amount of sun exposure and the chill exposure, and many more. But once you can harvest, it is like a bonus!

Can you grow apricot in Southern California?

In Southern California, low chill apricot trees such as blenheim, royal and tropic gold, grow well and produce lots of fruit in mild winter climates like Los Angeles. They also do well in other areas of Southern California such as Orange County and San Diego. California produces more than 95 percent of the nation’s commercially grown apricots. The only other important apricot producing state is Washington with a small fresh market industry.

Can you grow pears in Southern California?

Preferring fertile, well-drained soil and full sun, the 20th Century Pear tree is tolerant to both cold and drought conditions, making it an ideal choice for Southern California.

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