Agarita

Agarita

The first spring I experienced at the ranch, John pointed me to an agarita bush and suggested I pick some berries, that the berries were tasty and made great jelly.  After an hour passed I had a handful of berries and bleeding hands.  Yes, the berries are tasty but not easy to pick.  I later learned that the method for harvesting the berries was to put a sheet below the bush and thrash the berries loose.  The plant grows wild and there are many of them all over the ranch ranging from several feet to eight feet.  The shrub is a member of the barberry family and other names are desert holly, algerita,  agarito, wild currant, chaparral berry, palo amarillo and paisano bush.  Agarita is a valuable wildlife plant.  The leaves are eaten by deer.  The berries are eaten by quail, cardinals, songbirds and by mammals including raccoons and opossums.  Birds and small animals utilize the agarita for cover, shade and protection.  The flowers are a source of nectar for bees and butterflies.  Yellow dye is made from the wood and roots.  Root potions are used to treat toothaches.  The blooming yellow flowers in the spring have a lovely, delicate fragrance, quite unique.  The blooming agarita is a feature of spring I enjoy every year.