Cascara Flowers

Most plants do not bloom and have fruit and/or seeds simultaneously. Usually I can only photograph the flowers or the fruit and must return or hope to eventually come upon the other stages of development. Additionally, some plants lose their leaves before the flowers open or the flowers open before the leaves appear. You get the idea! It is not easy to get all the pictures of a particular specimen concurrently.

Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) is a large shrub with dark, glossy, often leathery leaves. The fruits are black drupes with yellow pulp containing 2 or 3 hard seeds. The fruit begin bright red and quickly turn black. I often see cascara with fruits, but see (or notice) this shrub less often in flower. (See my post “Cascara” from 12-14-16 for more information on this deciduous shrub.)

In May Leonard and I found cascara in blossom along Waters Gulch Trail near Lake Shasta (Shasta County CA). Cascara has small, branched clusters of up to 25 tiny flowers in the leaf axils. The flowers are greenish white and have five sepals, five minute petals, five stamens and abundant nectar. The flowers are easy to miss, but upon close examination are very pretty and worth searching out.

Other common names for this early-blooming shrub are cascara sagrada, chittam bark and buckthorn. Frangula purshiana is another scientific synonym for cascara.

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One Response to Cascara Flowers

  1. tonytomeo says:

    The first picture looks quite related to Rhamnus californica.

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