There are a large number of species of Ceanothus and several of them flourish as wild native plants here in California. Many are also cultivated as ornamental plants in our gardens. Here in the Sea Ranch you will find Ceanothus growing wild and you will also find it planted near some of our homes. It can be a beautiful and very dramatic plant. The various species have blooms of different colors ranging through a wide spectrum of blues and purples to pure white. We have to confess that we get confused as to which is which and we have no idea which specific plants escaped from someone's garden and which ones got here on their own. If you are a native plant enthusiast this can be a very important point, but we are not smart enough to enter into the discussion in any useful manner. For us a Ceanothus bush is a beautiful addition to our landscape.

ceanothus

ceanothus

As you might expect there are a lot of different common names for Ceanothus. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) some of them that grow here in California include: Mendocino ceanothus, littleleaf buckbrush, hairy ceanothus, prostrate ceanothus, dwarf ceanothus, redstem ceanothus, coastal plain buckbrush, Sonoma ceanothus, jimbrush, redheart, blueblossum, and snowbrush to name just a few. Some gardeners even call the plant California Lilac. Native Americans valued "Red Root" (their name for the plant was derived from the color of it's inner root bark) for it's medicinal properties. Modern clinical studies have also proven it's value in treating high blood pressure and various inflammations. Early pioneers in this area learned from Native Americans to use the leaves to brew an herbal tea. Miwok Indians made baskets from Ceanothus branches.

For gardeners, Ceanothus is an excellent example of what deer eat when. In the wild, the plant
is drought tolerant. Deer will basically leave it alone except in the spring when the rains improve
the moisture content of the leaves. Bees and butterflies love it when it blooms.