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Vascular Plants of California
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Carpenteria californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: HydrangeaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb to small tree or vine. Stem: < 3 m, generally erect; bark generally peeling as thin sheets or narrow strips. Leaf: generally simple, opposite, deciduous or not, +- hairy; stipules 0; blade +- round to narrowly elliptic, entire or toothed. Inflorescence: cyme, raceme, panicle, or flower 1, terminal or axillary, generally bracted. Flower: bisexual, radial, flowers on inflorescence margins occasionally sterile and enlarged; sepals 4--10, free or fused at base, spreading or erect; petals 4--7, free, +- round to narrowly elliptic; stamens 8--12 in 2 whorls or many and clustered, filament base linear or wide and flat; pistil 1, ovary superior to inferior, chambers 2--8, ovules 1--2 or many per chamber, placentas axile or parietal, styles 1--8, free or fused at base. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal or septicidal; styles persistent or not. Seed: generally many, small to minute, oblong to fusiform, winged or not.
Genera In Family: 18 genera, +- 250 species: generally temperate, subtropical northern hemisphere; some cultivated for ornament (Carpenteria, Hydrangea, Philadelphus). Note: Philadelphaceae in TJM (1993).
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Charles F. Quibell
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CarpenteriaView Description 

Etymology: (William M. Carpenter, Louisiana botanist, 1811--1848)
Carpenteria californica Torr.
Habit: Shrub < 3 m. Stem: bark +- gray, peeling as thin, wide sheets. Leaf: persistent, leathery; petiole 0.5--1 cm; blade 4--10 cm, 1--2.5 cm wide, narrowly elliptic, 1-veined from base, margin generally rolled under, entire or +- toothed, green and glabrous above, pale and short-tomentose below. Inflorescence: cyme or short raceme, terminal, open; flowers 3--13; bracts < leaves, sessile. Flower: 3--6 cm wide, fragrant; sepals 5--7, 8--10 mm, generally glabrous, white-tomentose at inside tip; petals 5--8, 15--25 mm, +- round, white; stamens many, clustered, filaments linear; ovary +- superior, chambers 5--8; placentas axile, ovules many; style 1, branches 5--7, 3--6 mm; stigmas linear along style branches. Fruit: 0.6--1.2 cm wide, conical, weakly septicidal. Seed: fusiform, red-brown. Chromosomes: 2n=20.
Ecology: Streambanks, chaparral, oak woodland; Elevation: 340--1340 m. Bioregional Distribution: c&s SNF (between Kings, San Joaquin rivers, Fresno Co.). Flowering Time: May--Jul Note: Post-fire stump-sprouting, seedling establishment follows burns.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Charles F. Quibell
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 Carpenteria californica

botanical illustration including Carpenteria californica

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Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Charles F. Quibell 2012, Carpenteria californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 23, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 23, 2024.

Carpenteria californica
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©2007 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Carpenteria californica
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©2008 Chris Winchell
Carpenteria californica
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©2008 Chris Winchell
Carpenteria californica
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©2007 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Carpenteria californica
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©2005 Aaron Schusteff

More photos of Carpenteria californica
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Carpenteria californica:
c&s SNF (between Kings, San Joaquin rivers, Fresno Co.).
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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).