Ceanothus leucodermis E. Greene

Chaparral Whitethorn
Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)


Chaparral whitethorn is an erect, evergreen shrub growing to some 12' tall with rigid, divaricate branches that have pale green smooth bark and short spreading spinescent branchlets.  The alternate leaves are 1" to 1-1/2" in length, ovate to elliptic-oblong, short-petioled, 3-ribbed from the base, and entire-margined. They are gray-glaucous on both surfaces and have thin deciduous stipules.  The small but showy flowers are in clusters 1-1/4" to 3" long, and are white to pale blue. Each flower has five somewhat petal-like, incurved sepals united at the base, and five distinct hooded and clawed petals.  There are five stamens opposite the petals and a 3-lobed ovary with a short 3-cleft style, and the fruit is a sticky, ± spheric, 3-valved capsule 1/4" long, depressed at the top.  Chaparral whitethorn is fairly common on dry rocky or sandy slopes to 6000' in chaparral and southern oak woodland especially in the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges, blooming from April to June.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Ceanothus 2) leucodermis.
Pronunciation: see-a-NO-thus lew-ko-DER-mis.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.