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carpenteria californica

Carpenteria

Carpenteria californica, the sole species in the genus Carpenteria, is an evergreen shrub native to California. It is closey related to the genus Philadelphus. Common names include Tree-anemone and Bush-anemone.

It is a rare species, endemic to only seven sites in Fresno and Madera Counties, where it grows in chaparral between 340-1340 m altitude between the San Joaquin and King rivers. It is well adapted to wildfire, reproducing by stump sprouts after burning; natural seedlings are rare.

It grows to 1-3 m tall, with flaky bark on older stems. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate, 4-10 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad, glossy green above, blue-green to whitish and downy beneath. The flowers are 3-7 cm diameter, with 5-8 pure white petals and a cluster of yellow stamens; flowering is from late spring to mid summer. The fruit is a leathery capsule 6-12 mm diameter, containing numerous seeds.

It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens with Mediterranean climates, grown for its decorative flowers; it is now much commoner in cultivation than in the wild. Several cultivars have been selected, including 'Bodnant' (a cold-tolerant cultivar hardy to -15°C in the British Isles) and 'Ladham's' with large flowers.

Note that Carpenteria should not be confused with the similarly spelled Carpentaria, a genus of palms native to northern Australia.

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