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Big Pod Ceanothus Back to Plant Page
Ceanothus megacarpus

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About Big Pod Ceanothus (Ceanothus megacarpus) Ceanothus megacarpus is a species of flowering shrub in the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family known by the common name Bigpod Ceanothus. This Ceanothus is endemic to California, where its distribution extends from Santa Barbara County to San Diego County and includes most of the Channel Islands. There are two recognized varieties; var. insularis is a rare form found primarily on the Channel Islands. This shrub may exceed 4 meters in height but usually less and is covered in thick oval to nearly rectangular evergreen leaves. The leaves may be either opposite or alternate, sometimes on the same plant. The flower clusters are small and sparse and are filled with small white to pale lavender flowers with dark centers. The fruit is a large, bumpy, spherical red-green capsule about a centimeter wide. The inside of the capsule is divided into 3 valves, each valve holding a seed. The capsule dehisces neatly in two at the central band to release the seeds. This is a showy plant in early spring.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
6 - 15 ft (1.8 - 4.6 m)

Max. Width
6 - 15 ft (1.8 - 4.6 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate


Flower Color
White, Lavender

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky, dry slopes, ridges, canyons and flats as part of southern chaparral


Elevation ?
1' - 5719'

Annual Precip. ?
5.6" - 37.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.13" - 1.83"

Coldest Month ?
39.8° F - 56.6° F

Hottest Month ?
61.7° F - 84.0° F

Humidity ?
0.74 vpd - 35.15 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates various soils

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Companion Plants
Use with other south coast chaparral shrubs, of which there are many, including Chamise (Adenostema fasciculatum), Manzanita (Arctostaphylos and Xylococcus sp.), Viguiera (Bahiopsis laciniata), Barberry (Berberis aquifolium or nevinii), blue-flowered Ceanothus such as C. tomentosus, Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides or minutiflorus), Summer Holly (Comarostaphylis diversifolia), Tree Poppy (Dendromecon rigida), Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica), Buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.), Flannelbush (Fremontodendron sp.), Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Chaparral Mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus), Scrub Oak (Quercus berberidifolia or dumosa), and Sages (Salvia sp.)

Wildlife Attracted
Plants in the Ceanothus genus are host plants to the Spring Azure, Echo Blue, Pacuvius Duskywing, California Tortoiseshell, Pale Swallowtail, and Hedgerow Hairstreak butterflies.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Can be pruned to a standard tree form

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Hot water treatment.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Bigpod Ceanothus

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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