Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Simmondsia chinensis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SimmondsiaceaeView Description 
Habit: Shrub, evergreen, much-branched; dioecious. Stem: bark smooth. Leaf: opposite, simple, leathery; base jointed; stipules 0. Inflorescence: staminate flowers in axillary clusters, pistillate generally 1. Flower: small, radial; sepals generally 5, overlapped, becoming larger in pistillate, disk 0; corolla 0; stamens 8--12, free, anthers elongate with longitudinal slits; ovary superior, chambers 3, styles 3, stigmas long, +- not persistent in fruit. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal. Seed: 1.
Genera In Family: 1 genus, 1 sp.: southwestern United States, Mexico. Note: Recently shown (e.g., Carlquist 2002) to be not closely related to Buxaceae, in which it was sometimes placed; 2° growth unusual, produced by successive cambia.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & William J. Stone
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: SimmondsiaView Description 


Etymology: (T.W. Simmonds, English botanist, died exploring Trinidad, 1767--1804)
Simmondsia chinensis (Link) C.K. Schneid.
Habit: Hairs short, dense, appressed, less dense in age. Stem: 1--2 m; new growth +- hairy; branches stiff. Leaf: 2--4 cm, oblong-ovate, dull green, subsessile. Inflorescence: peduncle 3--10 mm. Flower: staminate sepals 3--4 mm, +- green, pistillate 10--20 mm in age; anthers yellow. Fruit: +- 1--2.5 cm, nut-like, ovoid, tough, leathery, obtusely 3-angled. Seed: large, including liquid wax. Chromosomes: 2n=26.
Ecology: Creosote-bush scrub, desert wash scrub, chaparral, coastal scrub; Elevation: < 1350 m. Bioregional Distribution: s SCo, PR, s DMoj, DSon; Distribution Outside California: northern Mexico. Flowering Time: Generally Mar--May Note: Important as forage pl; seed wax a substitute for sperm whale oil; fruit edible.
Synonyms: Buxus chinensis Link; Simmondsia californica Nutt.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & William J. Stone
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Simmondsia chinensisbotanical illustration including Simmondsia chinensis

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Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & William J. Stone 2012, Simmondsia chinensis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 24, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 24, 2024.

Simmondsia chinensis
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©2012 Neal Kramer
Simmondsia chinensis
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©2009 Thomas Stoughton
Simmondsia chinensis
click for image enlargement
©2012 Neal Kramer
Simmondsia chinensis
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©2012 Keir Morse
Simmondsia chinensis
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©2008 Thomas Stoughton

More photos of Simmondsia chinensis
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Simmondsia chinensis:
s SCo, PR, 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 occurrence).


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 Flowering-Fruiting Monthly Counts

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).