Redclaws

Redclaws (Escallonia rubra) is native to Chile and Argentina. This shrub is used as an ornamental throughout the world. In North America it has naturalized along the coast in Oregon and Northern California. Tolerant of salt spray, redclaws is found along beach margins to about 100 feet altitude. Because of its spreading nature, redclaws is often considered to be invasive.

A member of the Gooseberry/Currant Family (Grossulariaceae), redclaws bark is red and hairy turning brown with dots and finally grey with cracks as it ages. The stout stems are much branched and green with a dense covering of short, white hairs and glands.

The simple, alternate, evergreen redclaws leaves are a lustrous dark green on the supper surface with a lighter green underside. The leaves are hairless and their margins have small, regular teeth.

A terminal cluster of 4 to 40 flowers forms the redclaws inflorescence. The red/purple calyx is glandular and hairy with 5 sharply pointed lobes. The red to burgundy corolla is an open funnel with five lobes. There are five stamens and one stigma. The sharp calyx points give redclaws its common name.

The fruit is a berry.

The genus name honors Antonio Escallon y Florez (1739-1819), who collected plants in South America. He was born in Spain and settled in what is now Columbia. In Latin the species designation means red.

It took me a while to identify this shrub which I found growing in May near the parking area at Pelican Beach, located in California, barely over the Oregon border.

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3 Responses to Redclaws

  1. tonytomeo says:

    ‘Redclaws’ is a new name for me. I know it only as ‘escallonia’, and had no idea that it is naturalized there. Is there a native species? I looked on BONAP, but found nothing in North America.

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