Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Adolphia californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: RhamnaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: [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.
Genera In Family: 50--52 genera, 950 species: especially tropics, subtropics some cultivated (Ceanothus; Frangula; Rhamnus; Ziziphus).
eFlora Treatment Author: John O. Sawyer, Jr., except as noted
Scientific Editor: Steve Boyd, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: AdolphiaView Description 

Habit: Shrub. Stem: branches dense, opposite, rigid, green; twigs spreading, jointed at base, thorn-tipped, glabrous to puberulent. Leaf: opposite, clustered in axils or not, early-deciduous; stipules +- triangular, black, shiny; blade entire, 1--3-ribbed from base. Inflorescence: small axillary clusters; pedicel generally white to green-white. Flower: hypanthium bowl-shaped, generally white to green-white; sepals 5, triangular, persistent; petals 5, spoon-shaped, white; stamens 5; disk fused to hypanthium, 5-angled, fleshy, generally white to green-white; ovary superior, chambers 3, 1-ovuled, stigma 3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, spheric, explosively dehiscent.
Etymology: (Adolphe T. Brongniart, student of Rhamnaceae, 1801--1876)
eFlora Treatment Author: John O. Sawyer, Jr.
Adolphia californica S. Watson
Habit: Plant < 1.5 m. Stem: twigs stout. Leaf: petiole 2--4 mm; blade, 3--12 mm, elliptic-oblong to obovate, base wedge-shaped, tip obtuse to acute. Flower: hypanthium 3 mm wide; petals 2 mm. Fruit: +- 5 mm.
Ecology: Coastal scrub, chaparral; Elevation: < 400 m. Bioregional Distribution: SCo, PR; Distribution Outside California: Mexico. Flowering Time: Dec--Apr
Unabridged Note: Tortosa (1993 Darwiniana 32:185--189) treated Adolphia californica as a synonym of Adolphia infesta of Arizona, northern Mexico, Texas, but did note regional differences. See Shreve & Wiggins 1964 Vegetation and flora of the Sonoran Desert for a comparison.
Jepson eFlora Author: John O. Sawyer, Jr.
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Adolphia californica

botanical illustration including Adolphia californica

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Citation for this treatment: John O. Sawyer, Jr. 2012, Adolphia californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 19, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 19, 2024.

Adolphia californica
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©2013 Keir Morse
Adolphia californica
click for enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse
Adolphia californica
click for enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse
Adolphia californica
click for enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse
Adolphia californica
click for enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse

More photos of Adolphia californica
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Geographic subdivisions for Adolphia californica:
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2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
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).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).