Cascara, also known as Frangula purshiana, is found along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to northern California along riverbanks and in other moist locations. It forms an attractive shape, and is often planted in Portland’s parking strips. It will sometimes reach 50′ but also grows as a shrub to only 15′. The dark green, glossy leaves are highly decorative and stand out against the small, green-white flowers that form in loose clusters. In late autumn, the leaves turn a delicate yellow and persist through many a winter storm.
Birds relish the cherry-like fruit, but they are potentially toxic to humans and should be avoided.
The cured bark is used extensively as a potent laxative (hence the name “cascara” which means “skin” in Spanish). The tree can be cut at the soil line for harvest, and will usually re-sprout to form a new tree.
- Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
- Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
- Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
- Growth Rate: Slow
- Spreads: No
- Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Birds or Mammals
- Edible: No
- Mature Height: 30ft
- Mature Width: 20ft