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Bush Sunflower
Encelia californica
  
About Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica) 32 Nurseries Carry This Plant Encelia californica is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family known by the common name California brittlebush. It is also commonly referred to as "California bush sunflower". This shrub is native to southern California and Baja California where it is a member of the coastal sage plant community at the shoreline. It can also be found on inland foothills in the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges.It is drought tolerant but not frost tolerant, and needs full sun.

It is a bushy, sprawling shrub reaching between one half and 1.5 meters in height. It has many thin branches covered in widely spaced green leaves which are a rounded diamond shape. The solitary flower heads are daisylike, with 15 to 25 bright yellow ray florets 1 to 3 centimeters long around a center of protruding yellowish to purplish brown disc florets. The fruit is an achene 5 to 7 millimeters long, with no pappus. It blooms from February to June, and attracts butterflies, bees, and other insects.

This is a very fast growing and easy to grow plant. It is beautiful in winter and spring with its abundant yellow flowers, and it readily reseeds and will quickly spread throughout a landscape. This plant is fast growing, easy, and will bloom any time it has moisture and moderate temperatures. It makes a good cut flower. There is one horticultural variety known as 'El Dorado.' Probably one of the easiest ways to add color to a garden in southern California. Downsides of this plant are that it can become invasive and choke out other plants, and is semi-summer deciduous, and will often look weedy and almost dead in the summer and fall, and is fairly short-lived. It's often planted to start a native garden, and then replaced with longer-lived shrubs over time.

Usually grows to about 3 feet tall, with bright yellow daises from spring into summer. Goes dormant in summer heat, so use this plant as a filler. Can help jumpstart an area to change the soil ecology to help mazanitas and ceanothus plants.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Shrub

Size
Size
1.6 - 5 ft tall
3 - 7 ft wide

Form
Form
Mounding, Rounded

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Fast

Dormancy
Dormancy
Summer Semi-Deciduous,

Fragrance
Fragrance
Fragrant - Pleasant, Slight

Flower Color
Flower Color
Brown, Yellow

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Winter, Spring

Wildlife Supported
 
Numerous insects are attracted to the flowers, including butterflies and bees. Small birds such as goldfinches are attracted to the seed heads.

 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 2 confirmed , 1 likely * ) SHOW ALL

Landscaping Information
Sun
Sun
Part Shade, Full Sun

Moisture
Moisture
Very Low

Summer Irrigation
Summer Irrigation
Max 1x / week once established

Nurseries
Nurseries

Ease of Care
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Cold Tolerance
Cold Tolerance
Tolerates cold to 30° F

Soil Drainage
Soil Drainage
Fast, Medium, Slow

Soil Description
Soil Description
Tolerates a wide variety of soils. Tolerates Sodic Soil. Soil PH: 6 - 8

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

Companion Plants
Companion Plants
Ceanothus tomentosus, California Sagebrush, Sugar Sumac, Lemonade Sumac, Coyote Broom, Chaparral Mallow, Sagebrush (Artemisia), Black Sage, White Sage, Chamise, Coyote Brush, California Buckwheat, Sticky Monkeyflower, Woolly Bluecurls, Scrub Oaks, Toyon, Dudleya spp, Yucca spp, various cactus species

Maintenance
Maintenance
No pest problems.. After it goes semi-deciduous in the summer, this plant can be cut to the ground and will come back nicely. Because of its tendency to sprawl or become floppy, it can also be pruned after flowering to encourage more flowers and more compact growth

Propagation
Propagation?
By seeds (this plant self-seeds readily), softwood cuttings

Sunset Zones
Sunset Zones?
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14*, 15, 16, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*,

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Slopes, bluffs, foothills and canyons primarily on the coastal side of the mountains from San Luis Obispo County to San Diego County and into northwestern Baja. Typically found on drier, south or west facing slopes as part of coastal sage scrub.

Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 4.4" - 35.5", Summer Precipitation: 0.15" - 2.65", Coldest Month: 39.9" - 61.4", Hottest Month: 62.5" - 88.8", Humidity: 0.82" - 42.79", Elevation: -1648" - 5439"

Alternative Names
Common Names: California Brittlebush, California Encelia


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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