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Baja California Birdbush
Ornithostaphylos oppositifolia

About Baja California Birdbush (Ornithostaphylos oppositifolia) Ornithostaphylos is a monotypic plant genus which contains the single species Ornithostaphylos oppositifolia, the Baja birdbush or Baja California birdbush. It is a member of the Heath family (Ericaceae), and it shares many characteristics with other members of this family such as the manzanitas and summer holly. This is a very rare shrub native to only one population very near the border in coastal San Diego County, where it is threatened by border enforcement activities. It is reportedly more common in northern Baja California but also threatened by expanding urbanization there. It is considered rare due to these threats and its extremely limited distribution. Where it exists in the wild, it is found in chaparral below 4,000 ft. However, it has been in garden cultivation since the 1960's. This bush has long, narrow, leathery evergreen leaves with edges rolled under. The bark on the branches is thin and the younger branches and twigs are reddish in color. Older plants develop a basal burl from which it will resprout after fire or branch dieback. Although it is very drought tolerant, it does well with some summer water. The bush bears rounded, lantern-shaped white flowers on drooping pedicels. Though not widely available, it is a beautiful plant that should be used more often.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
15 ft (4.6 m)

Max. Width
10 ft (3 m)



Growth Rate
Slow, Very Slow


Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type
Seasonally hot, dry coastal chaparral such as the San Diego/Tijuana border region and the foothills of the Sierra Juarez and Sierra San Pedro Martir in Baja California, Mexico.


Elevation ?
37' - 444'

Annual Precip. ?
9.9" - 10.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 0.22"

Coldest Month ?
53.7° F - 54.3° F

Hottest Month ?
71.3° F - 72.5° F

Humidity ?
1.76 vpd - 13.73 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates heavy soil but prefers well drained soil

Soil PH
5.5 - 7.0

Fast, Medium

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

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. Other birds are attracted to the fruits and seeds.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

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

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Prune dead wood only

Propagation ?
By seed or cuttings

Common uses
Hummingbird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Baja Birdbush

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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