The Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), or Saladito in Spanish, is an evergreen shrub that keeps its leathery leaves throughout the entire year. A member of the coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant community the Lemonadeberry is a fragrant, drought-tolerant plant found on the dry, coastal slopes of southern California and Baja California, Mexico. It can handle both heat and windy conditions well and thrives in well-drained sandy soils where its flowers provide fruit, nectar, and shelter for various birds and butterflies.
During warm spring months in southern California, early native peoples once used the berries to make a tart lemonade drink to quench their thirst. The Lemonadeberry is in the same family as Poison-oak and may contain allergens, so don’t try making native Lemonadeberry juice at home.
To see more photos of the Lemonadeberry, visit the San Diego Natural History Museum’s San Diego County Plant Atlas.
PHOTO CREDIT: Keir Morse