Frangula californica occurs from southwest Oregon southward along the Sierra Nevada foothills and Coast Ranges of California and into Baja Mexico. There are disjunctive populations in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. This non-serpentine species is normally found below 700 meters in elevation. There are two subspecies of this plant: F. c. californica and F. c. occidentalis. The subspecies F. c. californica is associated with northern California Coastal Ranges, west-central California, South Coast Ranges and the Providence Mountains.