Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Desert Ceanothus, Mountain Balm, Buckbrush, Wild Lilac, Red Root, Gregg Ceanothus
Ceanothus greggii

Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Ceanothus (see-an-OH-thus) (Info)
Species: greggii (GREG-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Ceanothus greggii var. greggii

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Kell On Mar 13, 2015, Kell from Northern California, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Per Jan Emming owner of the Destination:Forever Ranch and Gardens, a 40 acre desert botanical garden and sustainable living homestead in the Arizona desert with a nursery:

Desert ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii, family Rhamnaceae) is a xeric shrub that lives from California to Texas and across the border in Mexico. I came across these rampantly flowering shrubs on Chicken Springs Road on my way to Phoenix yesterday, scenting the air with a fragrance similar to that of flowering cherries, plums, and other members of the unrelated genus Prunus (family Rosaceae.) Habitat is mostly upper zones of the deserts where it starts to become wetter and more like chaparral and scrubland, and not the lowest, hottest desert sites. The genus Ceanothus is by far the most diverse in California, where dozens of species exist, covering entire hillsides with blue, purple, or white flowers. These here in Arizona are easily overlooked until they are in flower, when they make for a very nice scene amidst the associated Joshua trees, junipers, and scrub oaks. The fragrance took me right back to Colorado when the crabapple trees would bloom, so the chemical responsible for this must be similar even though the plants are not related.

There are apparently at least three subspecies of this shrub. Checking with SEINet, a useful resource for biological diversity of the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico, there are several vouchered specimens of these shrubs coming from Chicken Springs Road deposited at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, which makes me think this may well be C. greggi var vestitus. (In case that excites anyone. smile emoticon ) I find it interesting to reflect upon the people who came before me to collect plants, sometimes 60 or 80 years ago or even longer, and whose work remains preserved in dry herbarium specimens. Did the collector of the Ceanothus specimens at NAU see these same shrubs in 1978 as I am posting now, almost 40 years later? The locality data indicates that the spot only 1 mile north of Aubrey Peak (which has a microwave tower atop it) alongside the road is the same. I won't know for sure, but the idea is interesting to ponder upon as time move ahead like a river, always flowing....

Positive syswriter On Mar 19, 2007, syswriter from Oracle, AZ wrote:

This plant grows wild in the mountains of Oracle, Arizona. Blooming in late winter and early spring, it is laden with clusters of very fragrant small white flowers. Numerous insects and some butterflies hover around during the day.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Oracle, Arizona

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