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Ceanothus velutinus (Snowbrush)
Glase, Terry

Ceanothus velutinus

Ceanothus velutinus Douglas ex Hook.

Snowbrush, Snowbrush Ceanothus, Tobacco-brush, Mountain Balm, Buckbrush

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers contrast well with the dark, balsam-scented, sticky foliage of this 3-15 ft. broadleaf evergreen shrub. Snowbrush’s stems are stout and much-branched, lending a spreading, round-topped habit. The entire plant is pleasantly aromatic.

Snowbrush is a member of the buckthorn family (family Rhamnaceae), which includes shrubs, woody vines, and small to large trees (rarely herbs). There are about 700 species worldwide.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall, often much shorter.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: CA , CO , ID , MT , NV , OR , SD , UT , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: Tulare Co., CA to coastal B.C., e., mainly in mts., to CO & Black Hills, SD
Native Habitat: Open, wooded, hillsides & ledges; 3500 to 10,000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky soil.
Conditions Comments: Too much shade quickly results in a leggy specimen. This is sometimes considered a perennial herb.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: California tortoisehell

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.


Description: Sow seeds in fall. Many Ceanothus species can be propagated vegetatively with cuttings or, if it is a creeping type, with layers.
Seed Collection: Because dry capsules disperse their seed abruptly with a sudden ejection, it may be necessary to tie cloth bags around the clusters of capsules to catch the seeds.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require 3 months stratification after a hot water treatment. (Bring water to a boil and then steep the seeds for 10-15 minutes.)
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-17
Research By: TWC Staff

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