Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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



Shrub, tree, generally dioecious (rarely monoecious)
Stem: trunk < 40 m; wood soft; bark smooth, bitter; buds scaly
Leaves simple, alternate, deciduous; stipules generally deciduous, often large
Inflorescence: catkin, generally appearing before leaves; each flower subtended by disk or 1–2 nectary glands and 1 bract
Flower: perianth 0
Staminate flower: stamens 1–many
Pistillate flower: pistil 1, ovary superior, chamber 1, stigma lobes 2–4
Seeds many; hairs fine, white, cottony
Fruit: capsule; valves 2–4
Genera in family: 2 genera, 340 species: generally temp (except Australia, Malay Archipelago) moist places; many cultivated. Hybridization common; identification often difficult. Family description, key to genera by John O. Sawyer, Jr.



George W. Argus

Shrub, tree, dioecious; bud scale 1, not sticky, margins generally fused (or free, overlapping)
Stem: twigs generally flexible and not glaucous
Leaf: blade linear to widely obovate, entire to toothed, generally ± hairy
Inflorescence: dense catkin emerging before, with, or after leaves, sessile or on a short leafy shoot; bract subtending each flower
Flower: perianth 0
Staminate flower: stamens 1–8
Pistillate flower: ovary stalked or sessile, style 1 or 0, stigmas 2, each sometimes 2-lobed; nectaries 1–several, generally rod-like, generally between inflorescence axis and flower
Fruit: valves 2
Species in genus: ± 400 species: ± worldwide, especially n temp, arctic
Etymology: (Latin: ancient name)
Reference: [Argus 1986 Syst Bot Monog 9:1–170; Dorn 1976 Canad J Bot 54:2769–2789]
Difficult, highly variable. Not all specimens will key easily; sprout shoots and other extreme forms are not included in keys, may require field comparison for identification. Studies of variation, hybridization needed.


S. sitchensis Bong.


Shrub, small tree, < 7 m
Stem: twigs brownish, silky or long-soft-wavy-hairy, flexible or ± brittle at base
Leaves: young leaves hairy; mature blade 52–110 mm, lanceolate to widely obovate, acute or pointed (base wedge-shaped), entire to finely serrate, strongly rolled under near base, lower surface not glaucous, densely short-silky to densely silky-woolly and generally obscured, upper surface dark green, becoming glabrous
Inflorescence appearing just before or with leaves, 26–95 mm, on leafy shoots 3–20 mm, rarely sessile; flower bract tawny or brown
Staminate flower: stamen 1
Pistillate flower: ovary silky, widely ovoid, style 0.4–0.8 mm, stalk 0.4–1.2 mm
Chromosomes: 2n=38
Ecology: Common. Tidal swamps, marshes, springs, streambeds
Elevation: 0–400 m (1800–2500 m in Siskiyou, Humboldt cos.).
Bioregional distribution: Northwestern California, Central Western California, (except Inner South Coast Ranges), w Western Transverse Ranges
Distribution outside California: to Alaska, Montana
Synonyms: S. coulteri Andersson
Horticultural information: WET: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24; STBL.

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