Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Leucophyllum frutescens

Cenizo, Purple sage, Texas ranger, Texas barometer bush, Texas silverleaf, Texas sage, Silverleaf

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)
Marcus, Joseph A.
A gray shrub with leaves densely covered with stellate, silvery hairs and bright pink-lavender, bilaterally symmetrical flowers borne singly in crowded leaf axils. Typically a compact shrub, 2-5 ft. tall, Texas barometer-bush or cenizo occasionally reaches 8 ft. in height, and 4-6 ft. in width. Leaves silvery gray to greenish, soft to the touch, up to 1 1/4 inches long but mostly 1 inch or less, tapering more gradually to the base than to the rounded tip, margins smooth. Flowers violet to purple, sometimes pink, nearly bell shaped, and up to 1 inch in length and width, appearing intermittently from spring to fall. Fruit a small capsule.

As one travels east across southern Texas near the Mexican border, the olive green of Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) gives way to the gray of this species, with its display of bright pink-lavender flowers. These burst into bloom for only a few days at a time, in the summer and fall, depending on rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves, also described as silvery, white, or gray, is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. A grouping of several individuals makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. This and other Leucophyllum species are popular water-conserving ornamentals in the Southwest.

Image Gallery:

61 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Obovate
Leaf Pubescence: Tomentose , Stellate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Obtuse
Leaf Base: Cuneate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Axillary
Size Notes: 2-8 feet
Leaf: Blue-gray, green, whitish gray, silvery
Flower: Flowers 1 inch wide
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
Bloom Notes: Several months of periodic flowering. Often flowers after a few summer showers, which is why one of its common names is barometer bush.


Native Distribution: In TX, Rio Grande Plain, s. Trans-Pecos, & Edwards Plateau, south to Nuevo Leon in Mexico
Native Habitat: Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Hillsides, Slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tends to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. Though this species is the most irrigation-tolerant of the genus, it is susceptible to cotton root rot if soil does not have good drainage and remains moist. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant. During very cold winters, may lose a few leaves.


Use Ornamental: A hedgeable evergreen shrub with attractive foliage and long-lasting, ornamental blooms.
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Nesting site, Cover.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Theona Checkerspot, Calleta silkmoth
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Leucophyllum frutescens is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Calleta silkmoth
(Eupackardia calleta)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Theona Checkerspot
(Chlosyne theona)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2016-04-02