Lemmon Ceanothus

The genus, Ceanothus, has over 45 species in North America. Lemmon  ceanothus (Ceanothus lemmonii) is named for John Gill Lemmon (1832 – 1908) who along with his wife, Sara, collected plants throughout the American West for Asa Gray.

A native shrub that is endemic to California (only occurs in California), Lemmon ceanaothus grows from elevations of about 1,200 to 3,500 feet. Its habitat is open woodland slopes and chaparrals, disturbed areas, often along roadsides, and burned-over sites. This specimen was photographed in May along California Highway 299 south of Montgomery Creek CA (Shasta County).

Lemmon ceanothus is a low, rounded, much-branched shrub approximately 1 1/2 to 3 feet in height. The bark is grey while the twigs are hairy and grey, greenish grey or whitish.

The alternate leaves of Lemmon ceanothus are elliptical to oblong and evergreen. The leaf blades are green and waxy on the upper side and covered with hairs on the lower side. Serrulate (minutely serrated) margins and one or three prominent midveins also describe the leaves.

Lemmon ceanothus flowers are pale blue and occur in small clusters that are only 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. These inflorescences have peduncles (stalks) as long as or longer than the flower clusters.

The somewhat triangular fruits are capsules with three chambers and three crests on the upper side containing seeds which are shiny, brown and flat when mature.

Sheep, goats and deer readily browse Lemmon ceanothus, however, cattle rarely feed on this shrub.

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