Common Name(s): Greestem Ceanothus, California Lilac
Scientific Name: Ceanothus spinosus
Plant Type: Evergreen shrub
Size: Ceanothus range from ground huggers to small trees, 3-7 feet tall.
The dominant flower color is blue varying from a light frosted blue to almost cobalt. Several Ceanothus have white flowers. In California we have about 60 native species and varieties of Ceanothus. Ceanothus, are some of our most fragrant and colorful shrubs here in California. They are very drought tolerant. Ceanothus is sensitive to overwatering.
Native Americans used the dried leaves of this plant as an herbal tea and washing, lathered into soap. Such lather has been said to be relieving for poison oak, eczema and rashes. Early pioneers used the plant as a substitute for black tea. Miwok Indians of California made baskets from ceanothus branches. Ceanothus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly and moth species, and also attract bees and other beneficial insects. The name Ceanothus comes from the Greek name keanothos, spiny plant. Ceanothus is also Latin for “thistle.”