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I run into snowbrush a lot in my duties as a fire ecologist, primarily because it tends to favor forest openings created by fire. Snowbrush is readily identifiable by its leathery, glossy evergreen leaves and thick yellow-green stems. Cascades of white flowers cover it in the late spring, and later in the summer it develops seed pods that fire seeds across the landscape like shrapnel. The leaves contain a number of aromatic compounds that might be related to its historical traditional use for a variety of ailment. Snowbrush also has a mutually beneficial relationship with a species of soil bacteria that fixes nitrogen from the air (like legumes and alders, among others). This helps them colonize sites where the soils might not be ideal.


In the garden, snowbrush is good for sunny sites with well-drained soil. It loves a slope. While its growth habit tends to be more 'sprawly' rather than vertical, young plants will benefit from some close neigbors (bunchgrasses, other small shrubs) to provide protection as it gets established. 


Snowbrush would grow well with the following species (to name a few): woods rose, buffaloberry, serviceberry, Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass, and white sage.


  • Ceanothus velutinus

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