Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Lauramay T. Dempster

Subshrub, shrub, vine, or small tree
Leaves opposite, simple or compound; stipules generally 0
Flower: calyx tube fused to ovary, limb generally 5-lobed; corolla radial or bilateral, rotate to cylindric, generally 5-lobed; stamens generally 5, epipetalous, alternate corolla lobes; ovary inferior, 1–5-chambered, style l
Fruit: berry, drupe, or capsule
Genera in family: ± 12 genera, 450 species: especially n temp
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to include Valerianaceae (and Dispaceae); Sambucus, Viburnum recently treated in Adoxaceae



Large shrub (or small tree generally lacking main trunk), deciduous
Stem: pith conspicuous, spongy
Leaves pinnately (rarely bipinnately) compound, with terminal leaflet; leaflets serrate
Inflorescence: panicle made up of cymes, terminal
Flower small; calyx 5-toothed; corolla radial, rotate, 5-lobed, white or cream; ovary chambers 3–5, ovules 1 per chamber and suspended from its top, style short, stigmas 3–5
Fruit: drupe
Seeds 3–5
Etymology: (Greek, the name of a musical instrument made from wood of this genus)
Species in genus: 20 species: temp, subtropical; some cultivated as ornamental. TOXIC in quantity (except cooked fruits).


S. mexicana DC.


Shrub 2–8 m, generally as wide as tall, lacking main trunk
Leaf: leaflets 3–9, 3–20 cm, elliptic to ovate, glabrous to hairy, axis often curved or bowed, base often asymmetric, tip acute to acuminate
Inflorescence 4–33 cm diam, ± flat-topped; central axis generally abruptly shorter and weaker than branches
Fruit nearly black and densely white glaucous, thus appearing bluish
Chromosomes: 2n=36
Ecology: Common. Streambanks, open places in forest
Elevation: < 3000 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province, Great Basin Floristic Province, Desert Mountains
Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Utah, New Mexico
Flowering time: Mar–Sep
Synonyms: S. caerulea Raf
Variable, currently impossible to split into unified subgroups; detailed study warranted
Horticultural information: 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 24, IRR: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.

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