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Arboretum Spotlight: Elizabeth bush anemone

Aboretum Spotlight: Elizabeth bush anemone is a hybrid of a California native shrub.
Aboretum Spotlight: Elizabeth bush anemone is a hybrid of a California native shrub.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Elizabeth bush anemone

Carpenteria californica “Elizabeth”

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Bloom season: White flowers April to June

Exposure: Partial shade or full shade

Pruning needs: None except to shape as desired

Water needs: Very low water use; once established, irrigate deeply once or twice a month.

Snapshot: This hybrid of a favorite California native shrub looks good year round. In late spring and early summer, the shrub is covered with beautiful clusters of fragrant 2-inch white flowers with bright yellow stamens. They resemble anemones, hence this shrub’s common name. The foliage and stems are pretty, too. An attractive much-branched evergreen shrub, it grows upright gray stems that peel back annually to reveal new yellowish-tan bark. The 4- to 5-inch-long, narrow leaves are dark glossy green above with dense white hairs on the surface below. Bush anemone requires shade in inland gardens, making it a good choice for dry shade. Good drainage is a must; it needs a well-drained site with no standing water during rainfall or irrigation. Bush anemone is drought-tolerant once established but looks its best in an acidic organic-amended soil with occasional to regular irrigation.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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