Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Colubrina 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: ColubrinaView Description 

Habit: Shrub. Stem: branches dense, alternate, rigid, +- white; twigs spreading, not jointed at base, thorn-tipped [or not], generally hairy. Leaf: clustered on short-shoots or not, deciduous [or not]; stipules deciduous; blade entire, 3--5-ribbed from base, generally with round, marginal glands. Inflorescence: umbel-like, few-flowered. Flower: hypanthium hemispheric, adhering to developing fruit; sepals 5; petals 5, = sepals, oblanceolate; stamens 5; disk fleshy, adhering to, +- filling hypanthium; ovary chambers 3, 1-ovuled, stigma 3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, shallow-3-valved, explosively dehiscent (drupe-like, indehiscent).
Species In Genus: 31 species: warm places worldwide. Etymology: (Latin: from French for serpent tree)
Reference: Bastos 1990 Pesquisas Botanica 41:99--122
Unabridged Reference: Johnston 1971 Brittonia 23:2--53
Colubrina californica I.M. Johnst.
Habit: Plant < 3 m. Stem: straight, tomentose. Leaf: blade 12--35 mm, oblong to obovate, dull gray-green, hairs silky, denser abaxially, base rounded or wedge-shaped, tip rounded to +- notched, mucronate or not. Inflorescence: 5--10 mm, 3--12-flowered, dense; pedicel 1--2 mm, 2--4 mm in fruit. Flower: appearing after rain; hypanthium +- 3 mm wide. Fruit: 8--10 mm, persisting 3--6 months.
Ecology: Desert scrub; Elevation: 240--920 m. Bioregional Distribution: s DMoj, DSon; Distribution Outside California: Arizona, Mexico. Flowering Time: Apr--May
Jepson eFlora Author: John O. Sawyer, Jr.
Reference: Bastos 1990 Pesquisas Botanica 41:99--122
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 Colubrina californica

botanical illustration including Colubrina californica


Citation for this treatment: John O. Sawyer, Jr. 2012, Colubrina californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=20048, accessed on April 03, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 03, 2020.

Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer
Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2013 Neal Kramer
Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2013 Neal Kramer
Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer
Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer
Colubrina californica
click for enlargement
© 2011 Neal Kramer

More photos of Colubrina californica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Colubrina californica:
s DMoj, DSon
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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).


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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).