Plant Feature: Edible

California Fan Palm

Genus: Washingtonia Filifera

This is the only palm that is native to California. It also appears in other parts of the Western US. It is found clustering in spring-fed oases in desert areas. The palm grows to a height of 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet. The evergreen fan-shaped leaves can extend 15 feet in diameter. The palm fronds have fibrous threads at leaf segments. Spent leaves do not drop naturally. They form a light brown skirt below the green fronds. California fan palms produce edible fruit (not dates) which grows in clusters.


Genus: Olea Europae

This drought tolerant tree develops interesting twisting forms with age. Olive trees also lend themselves to training in as espalier and they can be grown in pots. They are suitable for situations where it is desirable to avoid excessive height. Olive trees are evergreen and take many years to mature. With effort, olive fruit can be harvested and cured.


Genus: Punica Granatum

This tree is semi-evergreen with compact leaves and long-lasting blooms from which the fruit emerges in the spring. Pomegranate trees stay relatively small and dwarf varieties are available. These perform very effectively as shrubs. Pomegranates respond well to pruning to attain a controlled form. Pomegranate juice has become popular and the fruit is increasingly found in markets. Home cooks who have pomegranate trees enjoy the fruit as a garnish in cooking and for the decorative addition they make to floral arrangements and centerpieces.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Genus: Optuntia

The striking growth habit of this cactus is characterized by flat interconnecting lobes with prominent primary and hair-like secondary spines that rapidly detach when touched. Prickly pear are more tolerant of cool weather than most cactus varieties. The lobes and fruit are edible with appropriate preparation and are known as “Indian Figs”. New plants can be propagated from cuttings that are allowed to dry for about a week. Care in landscape design is needed to avoid putting prickly pear near other plantings as the spines make later weeding impractical


Genus: Rosmarinus Officinalis

Rosemary is an exceptional performer in a wide range situations. As an evergreen ground cover or shrub, rosemary is attractive throughout the year. The plant attracts bees, is fragrant and a valued herb. Minimal care is needed even in drought situations. Light pruning is helps rosemary retain a compact and attractive form. As a ground cover, rosemary can be used in expansive areas while mixing well with accent plantings.