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California Adolphia Back to Plant Page
Adolphia californica

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About California Adolphia (Adolphia californica) Adolphia californica is a species of flowering shrub in the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family known by the common names California Adlophin, Prickbush and Spineshrub. It is native to Baja California and California no farther north than San Diego County. Because of its limited distribution it is included on CNPS list 2B.1. It is a resident of the local chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities. This is a branching shrub not exceeding a meter in height with thick hairless to fuzzy dark green twigs. The stiff twigs bear sharp thorns. The very sparse leaves are each less than a centimeter long and oval-shaped with a pointed or rounded tip. The shrub blooms abundantly in clusters of flowers along all the branches. Each flower is a star-shaped bowl of five pointed cream-colored sepals. Between the sepals are five tiny spoon-shaped cream-colored petals. The fruit is a spherical capsule about half a centimeter across. It is not often used in gardens due to its formidable spines, but it is valuable in restoration projects in it native range.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 ft (1 m)

Max. Width
5 ft (1.5 m)


Summer Semi-Deciduous

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type
Semi-arid marine terraces, bluffs, canyons and slopes of San Diego County


Elevation ?
7' - 888'

Annual Precip. ?
9.9" - 14.7"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 0.36"

Coldest Month ?
49.3° F - 54.8° F

Hottest Month ?
69.3° F - 77.1° F

Humidity ?
1.25 vpd - 20.52 vpd

Soil Description
Typically sandy

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Companion Plants
Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Rarely Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. ( Emery and Frey 1971).

Common uses
Bank Stabilization

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Spineshrub, California Prickbush, California Adlophin

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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