SOLVED: identify low-growing hillside plant

Granada Hills, CA

I found this on an East-facing hillside in San Fernando Valley (North end of Los Angeles). It's low- growing, woody, with thin needles. This is from the bottom of the hill and looks pretty green, but at the top it looked scroungy, probably from less water.

I hope to use it on a hot South-facing hill with minimal water, where the old rosemary is dying out.

Thumbnail by nickingh
Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

How about Westringia fruticosa, coast rosemary.
It says this is a small bush, but it sure looks like it to me.

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)


Granada Hills, CA


When I looked up Westringia fruticosa, coast rosemary, sites said it grows to 3 or 4 ft., whereas it lies flat, less than a foot, on the established hillside where I found it .

Is there a low-growing version?

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Perhaps it is the variety W fruticosa Mundi (Wes05') commonly called Low Coast Rosemary, from Australia. The first link is a grower in US, the second, Australia

Granada Hills, CA

Thank you all. I didn't realize that there were so many kinds of rosemary.
Next step is finding a vendor who carries low-grow, drought tolerant plants, locally if possible. I'm guessing that December will be the best planting time.

Side note: the old rosemary is amazing. Unknown variety. It's all less than 3 ft high, blue flowers, dense, and 48 years old! Josh Siskin (Daily News garden columnist) said that 8 to 10 years is considered pretty good. Unfortunately, the dry previous winter and this summer's heat has yellowed it and I don't think it will come back again. It has required a lot of sprinkler water over the years, like an inch every week during the summer.

San Francisco, CA

I think what you have is a form of Myoporum parvifolium, perhaps 'Putah Creek' (excuse my French).

edited to correct typo

This message was edited Sep 18, 2012 8:10 PM

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree with Vestia, looks like Myoporum parvifolium to me as well.

Granada Hills, CA

Myoporum? I don't think so. Mine doesn't look like the myoporum pics and descriptions on websites. Also, myoporum might not have been readily available 48 years ago.

Here's a pic of my hillside, before it yellowed.

Thumbnail by nickingh
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Did you look at the pictures in the Plant Files link that Vestia posted? Many of them are a little more zoomed in view than your original pictures which makes things look a little bit larger, but the flower & leaves both look like a match to me.

Darwin, Australia

Nickingh, if we are talking about the plant in your first image then let me cast another vote for Myoporum parvifolium. It is my understanding that you found this plant growing on a hillslope and you wanted to identify it because you hope to use it on YOUR hillslope. As for your misgivings about Myoporum based on it's availability 48 years ago- I'm confused... the existing plant on YOUR hill is 48 years old, the plant you posted for ID is one you found growing therefore you don't know how old it is. I don't think anyone suggested they were the same plant.

Granada Hills, CA

Vestia's suggestion of myoporum immediately follows my comment "Side note: the old rosemary is amazing..." Thus I thought Vestia's suggestion was being applied to my old hillside, rather than the new sample I found. Therefore I followed up with "I don't think so..."
It is a good suggestion applied to the new one.

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

I agree with Myoporum parvifolium. Acording to Sunset Western Garden, there are several cultivars available. In OC they're usuing it on freeway slopes alot.

Granada Hills, CA

Myoporum it is. A nurseryman showed me some identical stock. Rosemary has thinner needles and distinctive smell.

I need to cover more than 2000 sq ft of hill, with minimal maintenance and less water than the old rosemary consumed in full Southern CA sun, straight South exposure. For this large area, I still water with the old rainbirds. Would one of the new low rosemary varieties or the myoporum be better?

For that matter, is there a better choice? I've looked at lots of plants online and in nurseries, but they've all fallen short in one way or another.

Bougainvillea is tough and pretty, but hard to keep low. Even the prostrate varieties I saw need to be cut down frequently, and thorns are a hazard en masse on a hill. Unless you know of one that is thornless and stays low by itself?

Vines are out because of substantial water requirements, need to remove the dried out stuff every couple of years, and good habitat for ground squirrels and/or snakes, rats.

San Francisco, CA

I think you may need to reasses your expectations for plants in the space, with the water and care you are prepared to provide.

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 10b)

Sounds like you need to look into Ca. native plants.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree on looking for natives. is a good reference--you can find out what plant communities would naturally occur in your area, and then pick from appropriate plants that should require very little care once established. They also sell plants, but you can always go to a local nursery to buy them if you'd prefer, the site is a good reference regardless of whether you want to buy from them or not.

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