rhamnus

Our native of the Buckthorn family, Rhamnus purshiana, is a real “sleeper” among our native trees -- frequently overlooked and under-appreciated.

Yet it is a widely-adaptable small tree that is a favorite for birds and suitable for the smaller urban garden; growing as a shrub to about 15 feet, it can also reach 30 feet as a small tree.

Described once as looking like “an alder crossed with a birch with a cherry thrown in” -- the Cascara’s mottled gray bark is topped with deeply-ridged, oval leaves usually dark green on their topside with lighter green underneath.

Rhamnus purshiana

Depending on the amount of sun it’s grown in, the fall color can range from yellow to orange - red in the fall. The flowers are small, creamy greenish-white, generally hiding amongst the foliage in small clusters. Butterflies like them, however, and will seek them out. The fruit that follows are small, purple-black beads that attract many species of birds.

Cascara grows in a wide variety of conditions – wet to dry, sun to shade – though it will perform best in a partly sunny, moist site with well-drained soil. That being said, it will happily take summer dry conditions, making it an appropriate site for seasonally wet areas like a rain garden.

Although aphids can sometimes be a pest of Cascara, and its foliage has been noted to be susceptible to Phytophthora, it seems that it tends to be mostly problem-free; and all of its virtues of adaptability, seasons of beauty and attractiveness to birds far outweigh the risks.

Rhamnus purshiana

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest