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Greenbark Ceanothus Back to Plant Page
Ceanothus spinosus

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About Greenbark Ceanothus (Ceanothus spinosus) Ceanothus spinosus is a species in the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family known by the common names greenbark ceanothus and redheart. It is native to the coastal strip of southern California south of San Luis Obispo County to northern Baja California, where it grows in the scrub and chaparral of the coastal mountain ranges. This is a large treelike shrub approaching six meters in maximum height. The stem is a rough-barked trunk near the base and has thorny, greenish-brown branches. The thick, firm evergreen leaves are up to 4 or 5 centimeters long and are hairless on the upper surface but sometimes lined with hairs underneath. The shrub blooms in flower clusters up to 15 centimeters long filled with clusters of white to pale blue flowers. The fruit is a smooth, round capsule about half a centimeter wide containing 3 seeds.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
10 - 20 ft (3 - 6.1 m)

Max. Width
10 ft (3.0 m)

Fragrant - Pleasant

Summer Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen

Flower Color
Blue, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes of the western face of the Coast Ranges, Transverse Range and Peninsular Range, usually below 3,000 ft.


Elevation ?
1' - 6180'

Annual Precip. ?
7.5" - 36.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 1.99"

Coldest Month ?
40.1° F - 56.1° F

Hottest Month ?
64.0° F - 83.5° F

Humidity ?
0.72 vpd - 33.74 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous insects, especially bees, are attracted to the flowers. Birds and small mammals are attracted to the fruits. 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

Fast growing, may require annual pruning (late summer) to restrain its expansive habit. Can be pruned into a standard tree form. One of the few Ceanothus species that re-sprouts from the burl if burned or cut back to the base.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Hot water; then 2 mos. stratification may improve germination.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names

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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