Rhus integrifolia (Nutt.) W.H. Brewer & S. Watson
Lemonadeberry, lemonade berry, lemonade sumac
Lemonadeberry is native to southern California and the northern part of the Baja peninsula. It prefers well-drained chaparral, below elevations of 2953' (900 m).
Plants: A shrub or small tree 3-26' (1-8 m) tall, with a sprawling habit. Inland, they often become trees, but closer to the coast, they often remain low, spreading sideways up to 30' (9.1 m), forming impenetrable thickets.
Leaves: Simple, evergeen, leathery, finely toothed, 1¾-2½" (5-7 cm) × ¾-1½" (2-4 cm). Leaves have a waxy shine above, and are more pale below. They remind me a little of holly leaves.
Flowers: Dense clusters of small, sticky, white to pink flowers. They appear from February to May.
Fruits: Berries are dark red and sticky, up to ⅜" (1 cm) in diameter, and oddly misshapen.
Edibility: Fruits are edible raw or cooked, exuding a sour, lemony flavor. Berry clusters are soaked for 10-30 minutes in hot or cold water to make a drink reminiscent of lemonade. Boiling ruins the flavor, releasing excessive tannins.
Rhus integrifolia on CalPhotos
Rhus integrifolia on calscape.org
Rhus integrifolia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Rhus integrifolia on Wikipedia
Rhus integrifolia on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Rhus integrifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.