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Ceanothus spinosus

Ceanothus spinosus Nutt.

Redheart, Greenbark Ceanothus, Red-heart Mountain Lilac

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Evergreen, spiny shrub or small tree with irregular, spreading, open crown and many showy flowers resembling lilacs.

This species is grown as an attractive ornamental and screen along roadsides and is useful for erosion control. However, old plants become irregular, sprawling, and untidy with the dried remains of the capsules. It is called "Redheart" because of the dark red wood, which makes good fuel. The shrubs are spiny, drought-resistant and sprout from stumps but are killed back in cold winters. The foliage of this and related species is browsed by deer and elk.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf Margin: Entire
Inflorescence: Axillary
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall, often much shorter.
Leaf: Dark shiny green.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Pale blue to whitish.


Native Distribution: Pacific Coast Ranges of SW. California and NW. Baja California; to 3000' (914 m).
Native Habitat: Dry hillsides and mountain canyons usually near coast; in chaparral and sage shrub.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ceanothus spinosus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ceanothus spinosus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ceanothus spinosus


Record Modified: 2022-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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