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Desert Ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii
About Desert Ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii) Nurseries Show All Photos Known by the common names Mountain Buckbrush or Desert Ceanothus, it is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico where it grows in desert scrub, sagebrush, chaparral, and other dry habitat. This shrub grows erect to nearly 2 meters in maximum height. Its woody parts are gray in color and somewhat woolly. The evergreen leaves are oppositely arranged and variable in shape. They may be toothed or smooth along the edges. The flower cluster is a small cluster of many white flowers. The fruit is a horned capsule a few millimeters wide which bursts explosively to expel the three seeds. The seeds require thermal scarification from wildfire before they can germinate. This shrub is eagerly browsed by livestock and wild ungulates such as Mule deer and Desert Bighorn Sheep. Also known to attract a variety of bird species.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.5 - 7 ft (1.1 - 2.1 m)

Max. Width
7 ft (2.1 m)

Upright, Rounded

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate


Flower Color
Blue, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
In the southern part of its range, it is found on dry slopes of desert transition between 3,500 and 7,500 ft. as part of chaparral or sagebrush scrub. In the northern part of its range, it is found with Joshua Tree woodland, Pinyon-Juniper woodland or Ponderosa pines


Elevation ?
3' - 8983'

Annual Precip. ?
5.2" - 43.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.24" - 3.90"

Coldest Month ?
28.0° F - 57.6° F

Hottest Month ?
49.6° F - 86.2° F

Humidity ?
0.93 vpd - 37.09 vpd

Soil Description
Generally well drained such as decomposed granite

Soil PH
5.5 - 7.5

Fast, Medium

Companion Plants
Desert transition or plants tolerant of hot, dry inland locations such as Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi), Desert Scrub Oak (Quercus cornelius-mulleri), Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Antelope Bush (Purshia tridentata), Desert Sage (Salvia dorii), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Mojave Yucca (Yucca shidigera) and cactus species.

Wildlife Attracted
Primarily insects. 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 ?
Extremely Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
1x/month, 2x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Hot water and 2-3 mos. stratification.

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

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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