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Taxon  Report  
Ceanothus velutinus  Douglas
Tobacco brush, snowbrush
Ceanothus velutinus is a tree or shrub that is native to California, and also found elsewhere in North America and beyond.
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Bloom Period
Genus: Ceanothus
Family: Rhamnaceae  
Category: angiosperm  
PLANTS group:Dicot
Jepson eFlora section: eudicot

Habitat: slopes

Communities: Yellow Pine Forest, Red Fir Forest, Lodgepole Forest, Subalpine Forest, Chaparral

Name Status:
Accepted by JEF + PLANTS

Alternate Names:
JEFCeanothus velutinus var. hookeri
JEFCeanothus velutinus var. laevigatus
JEFCeanothus velutinus var. velutinus
Information about  Ceanothus velutinus from other sources
Nursery availability from CNPLX
This plant is available commercially.
Jepson eFlora

USDA PLANTS Profile (CEVE)

Photos on Calflora

Photos on CalPhotos

Google Images

Photos on iNaturalist

ID Tips on PlantID.net

[Wikipedia] Range, Description, Uses: Ceanothus velutinus, with the common names snowbrush ceanothus, red root, and tobacco brush, is a species of shrub in the family Rhamnaceae. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California to Colorado, where it grows in several habitat types including coniferous forest, chaparral, and various types of woodland. Description The oval leaves have tiny teeth with glands along the edges. Ceanothus velutinus grows up to 4 meters tall but generally remains under three, and forms colonies of individuals which tangle together to form nearly impenetrable thickets.[1] The aromatic evergreen leaves are alternately arranged, each up to 8 centimeters long. The leaves are oval in shape with minute glandular teeth along the edges, and shiny green and hairless on the top surface. The plentiful inflorescences are long clusters of white flowers. The fruit is a three-lobed capsule a few millimeters long which snaps open explosively to expel the three seeds onto the soil, where they may remain in a buried seed bank for well over 200 years before sprouting.[1] The seed is coated in a very hard outer layer that must be scarified, generally by wildfire, before it can germinate.[1] Like most other ceanothus, this species fixes nitrogen via actinomycetes in its root nodules.[1] Uses Deer and elk browse the plant during winter.[2] Some Plateau Indian tribes drank a boil of this plant to induce sweating as a treatment for colds, fevers, and influenza. Leaves were also used when rinsing to help prevent dandruff.[3] Ceanothus velutinus was known as "red root" by many Native American tribes due to the color of the inner root bark, and was used as a medicine for treating lymphatic disorders, ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors, and tonsillitis. Clinical studies of the alkaloid compounds in C. velutinus has verified its effectiveness in treating high blood pressure and lymphatic blockages.[4] (link added by Mary Ann Machi)


Suggested Citation
Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research and conservation, with data contributed by public and private institutions and individuals. [web application]. 2024. Berkeley, California: The Calflora Database [a non-profit organization]. Available: https://www.calflora.org/   (Accessed: 07/23/2024).