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John O. Sawyer, Jr., except as noted

[Perennial herb] shrub, tree, generally erect, often thorny. Leaf: simple, generally alternate, often clustered on short-shoots; stipules generally present, occasionally modified into spines; generally petioled; blade pinnate-veined or 1–5-ribbed from base. Inflorescence: cyme, panicle, umbel, or flowers 1 or clustered in axils or on short-shoots. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium subtending, surrounding, or partly fused to ovary; sepals 4–5; petals 0, 4–5, generally clawed; stamens 0, 4–5, alternate sepals, attached to hypanthium top, each generally fitting into a petal concavity; disk (0 or) between stamens, ovary, thin to fleshy, entire or lobed, free from ovary, adherent or fused to hypanthium; ovary superior or ± inferior, chambers [1]2–4, 1–2-ovuled, style 1, stigma entire or 2–3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, drupe.
50–52 genera, 950 species: especially tropics, subtropics some cultivated (Ceanothus; Frangula; Rhamnus; Ziziphus). [Richardson et al. 2000 Amer J Bot 87:1309–1324] —Scientific Editors: Steve Boyd, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Brizicky 1965 J Arnold Arbor 45:439–463; Richardson et al. 2000 Kew Bull 55:311–341]

Key to Rhamnaceae


Dieter H. Wilken

Shrub, tree-like or not, generally erect or mat- to mound-like. Stem: branches generally arranged like leaves; twigs thorn-like or not, generally not angled. Leaf: alternate or opposite, some clustered on short-shoots or not, deciduous or evergreen; stipules scale-like, thin, deciduous, or knob-like, corky, thick, base persistent; blade flat or wavy, tip generally acute to obtuse, margin thick (i.e., thicker than adjacent blade) or not, rolled under or not, wavy or not, entire or gland- or sharp-toothed, glands generally dark, teeth pale, alternate blade 1–3-ribbed from base, generally thin, opposite blade 1-ribbed from base, thick, firm. Inflorescence: umbel-, raceme-, or panicle-like aggregations of few-flowered clusters, axillary or terminal; pedicels white to deep blue or pink. Flower: conspicuous, generally < 5 mm; hypanthium surrounding fleshy disk below ovary base, in fruit thick, not splitting; sepals generally 5, lance-deltate, incurved, colored like petals, persistent; petals generally 5, blade hood-like, white to deep blue or pink; stamens generally 5, opposite petals; ovary 1/2-inferior, 3-lobed, chambers 3, each 1-ovuled, styles 3. Fruit: capsule, ± spheric, generally ± 3-lobed, generally smooth, 3-ridged or not, horned or not. Seed: 3, 2–5 mm.
± 55 species: North America. (Greek: thorny plant) [Fross & Wilken 2006 Ceanothus. Timber Press] Hybrids common (named hybrids not recognized here), discussed in Fross & Wilken; hybrid forms do not key easily. As recircumscribed here, Ceanothus greggii A. Gray restricted to Mexico.

Key to Ceanothus

C. foliosus Parry
Plant erect to mat-like, ± open to dense. Stem: erect to spreading; twigs flexible, not thorn-like, not angled, green to red-green. Leaf: alternate, evergreen; stipules scale-like; petiole 1–3 mm; blade 5–20 mm, 3–13 mm wide, flat or generally wavy, ± folded lengthwise, oblong to widely elliptic or obovate, adaxially dark green, abaxially paler, glabrous to puberulent, 1-ribbed or faintly 3-ribbed from base, tip acute to ± rounded, margin not thick, not rolled under, gland-toothed or not, teeth 31–42, glands generally dark, persistent. Inflorescence: raceme-, occasionally ± umbel-like, 1–4 cm. Flower: blue to ± purple. Fruit: 3–4 mm wide, ± 3-ridged distally; horns 0. [Online Interchange]

C. foliosus var. foliosus WAVYLEAF CEANOTHUS
Plant erect, not mat-like, ± open, < 3.5 m. Stem: ascending to erect. Leaf: blade oblong to widely elliptic, abaxially glabrous to sparsely puberulent, margin wavy, gland-toothed.
2n=24. Rocky slopes, flats, chaparral, woodland, mixed-evergreen forest; < 1500 m. North Coast Ranges, San Francisco Bay Area, Outer South Coast Ranges, Peninsular Ranges. Mar–Jun [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 26 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Ceanothus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 26 2015

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click for enlargement Ceanothus foliosus var. foliosus
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1998 Dean Wm. Taylor

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Ceanothus foliosus var. foliosus Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.