Summary of the lemonade berry and its traditional use.

Kumeyaay name: huutat

Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia)

The lemonade berry is a small shrubby tree. The plant is native to the coastal range of southern California and Baja California. This tree can grow up to 25 feet in height and is a common member of the chaparral plant community.


The Kumeyaay use these tangy berries to flavor their tea. The berries are soaked in water to provide flavor and they’re also eaten fresh. The seeds from these berries are ground up and combined with this tangy drink. A wad of lemonade berries can also be placed in the mouth as a means to keep thirst at bay during long hikes under the sun. The bark of this tree is used in a tea after childbirth.


The following information about lemonade berry is an excerpt from Delfina Cuero's autobiography.

The name used depended upon the berry color red (huusill) or orange (huutat); the berries were eaten fresh or soaked to flavor water; the seed (keha) was ground and used with fruit for tea.  We also ground the seeds to drink when sick and feverish.  The bark was also made into a tea to use after a baby was born.



A cluster of lemonade berry fruit

photo credit: Oabjf34Q, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons