carpenteria californica


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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