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Taxon  Report  
Physocarpus capitatus  (Pursh) Kuntze
Ninebark,   Pacific ninebark,   Western ninebark
Physocarpus capitatus is a shrub that is native to California, and also found elsewhere in western North America.
Siskiyou Del Norte Modoc Humboldt Shasta Lassen Trinity Plumas Tehama Butte Mendocino Glenn Sierra Yuba Lake Nevada Colusa Placer Sutter El Dorado Yolo Alpine Napa Sonoma Sacramento Mono Amador Solano Calaveras Tuolumne San Joaquin Marin Contra Costa Alameda Santa Cruz Mariposa Madera San Francisco San Mateo Merced Fresno Stanislaus Santa Clara Inyo San Benito Tulare Kings Monterey San Bernardino San Luis Obispo Kern Santa Barbara Ventura Los Angeles Riverside Orange San Diego Imperial

Bloom Period
Genus: Physocarpus
Family: Rosaceae  
Category: angiosperm  
PLANTS group:Dicot
Jepson eFlora section: eudicot

Wetlands: Occurs usually in wetlands, occasionally in non wetlands

Habitat: streambanks, slopes

Communities: Redwood Forest, Yellow Pine Forest, Red Fir Forest, Chaparral, wetland-riparian

Name Status:
Accepted by JEF + PLANTS

Alternate Names:
PLANTSPhysocarpus opulifolius var. tomentellus
Information about  Physocarpus capitatus from other sources
Nursery availability from CNPLX
This plant is available commercially.
Jepson eFlora


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[Wikipedia] Description, Etymology, Distribution, Habitat, Ecology, Toxicity, Uses: Physocarpus capitatus is a dense deciduous shrub growing to 1 -2.5 metres tall. The reddish-gray bark, which is flaky and peels away in many irregular thin layers. The leaves are distinctively grape or maple-like, palmately lobed, and 3 - 14 centimetres long and broad. They are deeply veined with double-toothed margins, and are a dark, shiny green on top. It has clusters of small, creamy white flowers with five petals and numerous red-tipped stamens, which appear in late spring and persist into midsummer. The unique fruit is an inflated glossy red pod about 6 millimetres long which turns dry and brown and then splits open to release seeds. Etymology The common name 'ninebark' comes from the appearance of the flaky bark, seeming to have many layers. Distribution and habitat It is found at low and middle elevations in southern Alaska east to Montana and Utah, and south to southern California. It is most common west of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, often abundant on the north slopes of coastal mountains. It is less prevalent in the east of its range, where it overlaps with that of the mallow ninebark. It is often found in wetlands, but also forms thickets along rivers and in moist forest habitats. While it grows most robustly in wet environments, it is drought-tolerant to a degree. It prefers partial shade, but tolerates full sun and is adapted to many different soil types. Ecology Although it has low palatability for browsing ungulates, Pacific ninebark provides good cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals.The seeds are eaten by birds, and persist in the seed heads until winter. Toxicity Some consider the plant toxic.[2] Uses Pacific ninebark was used as an emetic and a laxative by indigenous groups. The stems were used to make children's hunting bows and small items such as needles; straighter shoots were used to make arrows. The bark was mixed with cedar bark to make a dark brown dye. It is used in ecological restoration due to its fibrous roots which are good for bank stabilization, and its ability to grow from cuttings.[2] Furthermore, it does not need an overhead canopy to become established at a restoration site as it is tolerant of direct sun. It may grow aggressively enough to shade out invasive species such as reed canary grass and Himalayan blackberry.[1] It is popular in California as a garden plant. (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: 07/15/2024).