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Santa Barbara Ceanothus
Ceanothus impressus

About Santa Barbara Ceanothus (Ceanothus impressus) Ceanothus impressus is a species of flowering shrub in the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family known by the common name Santa Barbara Ceanothus. This species is endemic to a small area of the Central Coast of California, where it can be found on coastal slopes and mesas. It is thickly branched with dark brown twigs and stem. The very small, evergreen leaves are about 2 centimeters long and oval shaped, highly ridged and wrinkled and curling under along the edges. They may be gland-dotted and have grayish hairy undersides. The shrub flowers abundantly in flower clusters of small blue flowers. The fruit is a crested spherical capsule about 4 millimeters wide.

There are two recognized varieties that inhabit essentially the same small range. In addition, several popular cultivars are derived from this species including 'Dark Star' and 'Julia Phelps.' This is a great Ceanothus to grow in its natural range. Significant amounts of summer water will kill this plant. It needs the cool coastal climate and strong marine influence to make it through the hot season, so don't try to grow it south of Ventura County or inland areas. Prefers sun or part shade and sandy soils. Makes a great hedge.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
4 - 6 ft (1.2 - 1.8 m)

Max. Width
4 - 6 ft (1.2 - 1.8 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate


Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry, sandy slopes and mesas generally very near the coast


Elevation ?
36' - 4469'

Annual Precip. ?
13.6" - 36.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 0.76"

Coldest Month ?
41.0° F - 52.2° F

Hottest Month ?
63.0° F - 77.0° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 23.74 vpd

Soil Description
Sandstone or sandy soil

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Sunset Zones ?
5, 7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous birds and 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
Very Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Hot water and 2.5-3 mos.stratification.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, 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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