Native Garden

Ernest Righetti High School


California Lilac - Ceanothus Yanki Point

Category: Shrub
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorns)
Origin: California U.S.A
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Dark Blue
Bloomtime: Winter/Spring

Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis 'Yankee Point' (Yankee Point Ceanothus) – By far, the most commonly planted selection of ceanothus in California, this fast-growing, durable groundcover reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and spreads 8 to 12 or more feet wide. Plants bear 1 1/2 inch long, glossy, dark green leaves and bright blue flower clusters in winter through early spring. Despite its coastal origins, ‘Yankee Point’ will grow inland with no watering once established when sited in partial shade. Especially effective as a large-scale groundcover where salt-laden ocean spray is a factor. Hardy to about 15° F. Plants typically mound up to 5 feet tall if planted too close together. Judicious pruning is recommended to maintain a dense form and promote vigor. This plant is distinct from the Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis form called "Carmel Creeper" which has slightly larger paler leaves and lighter blue flowers but unfortunately these plants have long been confused in the nursery trade as some felt them the same or at the least interchangeable. In side by side plantings at our nursery 'Yankee Point' proved more durable and attractive and so we only grow this cultivar which was selected in 1954 by Maunsell Van Rensselaer (past director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden), who chose the lowest growing, most floriferous, and darkest flowered individual from his original collection of four plants that came from Yankee Point, a rocky, exposed bluff in northern Monterey County. The varietal name "horizontalis" for this form of Ceanothus griseus was described in 1942 by Howard McMinn when he found it growing on wind swept bluffs in Monterey County but recent treatment has included this species as a variety of Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, as American botanist William Trelease originally described it in 1897. This makes the correct name for this plant 
Ceanothus thyrsiflorusvar. griseus 'Yankee Point', but we will continue to list this plant under the older name, as we have since 1981, until this new name becomes more widely accepted. The genus name comes from the Greek word keanthos which was used to describe a type of thistle and meaning a "thorny plant" or "spiny plant" and first used by Linnaeus in 1753 to describe New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus. This older specific epithet (now the variety) is from the Latin word 'grise' meaning gray, possibly referring to the undersides of the leaves with the new epithet referring to flowers being in a thyrse or multiple branching.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Ceanothus 'Yankee Point'

San Marcos GROWERS

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