California Wax Myrtle

These have never bloomed at the nursery before. Now they have! The catkins are beautiful! (If a bit understated). Eventually we’ll get dark purple berries too.

Myrica californica is native to the West Coast and the leaves are extremely fragrant when crushed, also known as bayberry – used for various medicinal preparations.

Here’s a picture of the fruit from the Mendocino Coast.

California's Sunflowery Inflorescence

Look, I know you’re sick of the Coreopsis gigantea bloom photos I’ve been featuring for the past month, as more and more of the blooms open up, but here’s a closeup.

What’s so special about this closeup? Nothing, except it’s a really good demonstration that this is in the Sunflower, or Aster (Asteraceae) family.

See, these big-headed flowers are actually inflorescences made up of many tiny little flowers all put together into one big giant head, just like a giant sunflower head. Click the photo and dive right in and you’ll see what I mean.

You can’t really tell on this photo, but the petals along the outside are also actually single petals from little blooms along the outside edge. It’s pretty amazing in person, but then you can check it out on your own sunflowers this summer and it looks the same!

It’s a little bit of summer right here in the middle of the California winter, such as it is.

Candy Cane Morning Glory

calystegia candy cane

First we have a profile shot of the very attractive flower of the:

Calystegia macrostegia “Candy Cane” – California Morning Glory

California Native
Herbaceous Perennial Vine

Sun: Full Sun near coast, Afternoon Shade inland
Water: Moderate, deciduous in summer if dry
Size: Twining Vines

Long lasting colorful blooms for a good part of the year. Great for climbing on fences. Keep watered through the summer to keep green.

And then we have a head-on shot too.

calystegia candy cane2

If you click the link above you can see another picture with both a head-on and a profile shot, togethewr in one amazing picture. Calystegia macrostegia California Morning Glory

Catalina Ironwood

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius

I’ve been blogging a bunch of non-native shrubs this week. This is not one of them. This one is a California native tree.

Hap likes this tree. We don’t grow a lot of trees so you can bet someone at the nursery likes it if we carry it. It certainly has bright red bark and very green leaves.

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp asplenifolius

California Native
Evergreen tree

Sun: Full to Moderate
Water: Low – keep dry
Size: 40’

Quick growing. Peeling grey bark reveals new red bark. White flowers in summer. Well-drained soils, low water. Hardy to 20°.

Ceanothus in Bloom

I see the “Ray Hartmans” are in bloom. I just thought you would want to know.


Chaparral Currant

Ribes malvaceum ‘Dancing Tassels’

I’ve posted other Ribes in bloom on the blog. This is the first of the Chaparral currants to make it on here.

The pendant blooms can reach 4 to 6 inches. This cultivar was found on San Clemente Island in the Channel Islands off the Califorina coast near Santa Barbara. These are the earliest of the winter blooming Ribes, although the color is more subtle. Generally this is the most sun-tolerant of the currants, but that means it needs a bit more water in the summer too.

Chaparral Currant

We’re getting into bloom season for a whole bunch of native currants.

ribes barrie coate

Ribes “Barrie Coate” is a favorite for the rich deep color of the blooms. The berries are edible of course, but it is grown primarily for the flowers. Because, I mean, look at them.

Ribes “Barrie Coate”

California Native
Deciduous shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Occasional
Size: 6 ft.

Winter blooming hummingbird plant. Very dark pink flower clusters February-March. Woody branches have peeling red bark as they age. Hardy to 25F.

You can see from the photo that the blooms come before the leaves with this species. By spring it will be a gorgeous green shrub and will still have more blooms too!

Chapparal Bush Mallow

Malacothamnus fasciculatus “Casitas”

Bay Area CA Native
Evergreen Shrub

Sun: Full Sun at coast to Part Shade inland
Water: Low once established
Size: Bushy, erect stems 4 to 10 feet

The butterflies flock to the small pink flowers that cover the plant throughout the summer. Clay-soils tolerant. Good for hedges and along fences. Hardy to 25F.

Chapparal Currant

Ribes Barrie Coate

Ribes “Barrie Coate” is coming into full bloom. I see that it has probably the most saturated color of the flowering currants, all native to California, that I am aware of.

I like it!

Ribes malvaceum “Barrie Coate”
Chaparral Currant

California Native
Deciduous shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Occasional
Size: 6 ft.

Winter blooming hummingbird plant. Very dark pink flower clusters February-March. Woody branches have peeling red bark as they age. Hardy to 25F.


Rikki took a picture of this large sprawling cholla on the California Coast at Lake San Antonio (Paso Robles).

Shall we figure out what the species is? How about Cylindropuntia prolifera. It is a shrubby California coastal native cholla; 3ft. to 8ft. tall.

Cholla City

Cylindropuntia prolifera

A shrubby California coastal native cholla grows 3ft. to 8ft. tall and blooms like you wouldn’t believe. Would you?

Coast Aster


Aster chilensis “Purple Haze”

Such a native wildflower in the Sunflower family (asteraceae) that you should have to have a license to grow it.

It does take a bit more water right now and through the summer than other natives, but the payoff is a full autumn flush of blooms. This was the first bud to open this year. Congratulations!

Coast Buckwheat

Eriogonum latifolium flower buds are about to open. I wonder what color they’ll be?

Coast Buckwheat

I can’t be sure what this is since it’s not in bloom right now, but i think I’ve found a rare coastal buckwheat.

Eriogonum luteolum var. caninum

Coast Sunflower

Encelia californica, also known as the California Brittlebush. You can extend the bloom season by deadheading religiously. The shrubs will get hundreds of flower heads at the same time. It is a daisy, or sunflower, or aster, depending on if you prefer to call the Asteraceae Family the Aster, Sunflower or Daisy Family. I usually call it the Daisy family since the flowers are all, clearly, daisy flowers.

It will survive most Berkeley winters, but is short lived regardless, so mix it in with your ceanothuses and your echeverias for maximum effect.

Coral Bells

Heuchera “Canyon Belle”

I can’t tell if this photo is in focus. I took it with my phone, and am blogging it direct without seeing the results on a computer. What do you think?


Coreopsis Question

Hi Peter,
I just had my Dr. Seuss repotted, and he doesn’t look so great. I chopped back all his dead hair, he was quite lush before, but had out grown his pot. He’s about 5.5 feet tall from base of trunk. We potted him in a sandy mix of soil. He has gotten all this new growth, and the flowers since he was potted. I’m not sure how much water he needs, in old pot he was doing good with twice a week. Also, do you know his technical name? Can’t seem to find anything about him online.

coreopsis gigantea

Also, he’s getting a couple extra hours of sun each day in the new location. More afternoon sun than before.


It is a Coreopsis gigantea. It’s a California native from the Channel Islands and the coastal cliffs of SoCal, so it is a winter grower and goes dormant in the summer, often loosing most of it’s leaves. In your large pot I would recommend watering well once every week or two and letting it dry out well before re-watering. Being a summer dormant plant too much water in the summer can cause rot and disease issues. It should perk up and take off this fall and look great again by Thanksgiving.


Coyote Brush

From the coast, the Sonoma Coast, which you should be able to identify now from the wide sweep of the photo.

Baccharis pilularis is a great native shrub for your front yard. You should look into getting one. Do you see how beautiful they are in these wind-swept areas? Well, now imagine them up against your house after you’ve painted it a nice eggshell blue. Now that’s class.


We seem to be selling a bunch of perennial daisies around here at the cactus store this year.

And I’m not even mentioning all the Cape Daisies. Here too. Even more Cape Daisies!

How did a cactus store come to sell so many daisies, you may ask? I tells you there’s a reason for it. It may have to do with the fact that they are often low water and easy to grow here in Berkeley and perennial so they come back every year and rebloom – no need to plant new flowers every spring. Or it may have to do with the fact that cactus flowers only last a few days and people like longer lasting flowers to fit between their occasional ly flowering cactuses too.

Or maybe they just like them.

Did I mention they’re all in the Asteraceae (Aster) Family? Also known as the Sunflower Family? And they all have disk flowers?

asteriscus maritimus

Asteriscus maritimus is a Canary Islands native known as the Gold Coin Daisy.

Aster frikartii Monch

Aster frikartii “Monch” is a hardy Aster hybrid. Lovely colors.


Erigeron glaucus is the classic favorite California Coastal Seaside Daisy.


Erigeron glaucus “W.R.” is a smaller more lavender cultivar. That disk has a lot of colors in it right now.

leucanthemum aglaia

Leucanthemum “Aglaia” is a frilled Shasta Daisy. Large flowers on tall stalks.

So now you know why a cactus nursery has daisy flowers.

Davis, California

The UC Davis Arboretum has a bunch of good programs.

Saturday, August 15
Guided Tour: California Native Plants in the Garden
10 a.m., Buehler Alumni & Visitors Center
Tour the Mary Wattis Brown Garden to see great native for your home garden.

And in case you can make it over there in the next hour:

Friday, August 7
Folk Music Jam Session
12 p.m., Wyatt Deck
Pull out your fiddles, guitars, banjos (you name it) for an acoustic jam session. Campus and community folk musicians play together over the lunch hour. All skill levels welcome. Listeners welcome!

Oh well, I guess my fiddle will have to stay put away until another day.

Deciduous Fruiting Vine

Vitis californica “Roger’s Red”

Our favorite of the California native grapes. Great color, tasty fruit, easy to grow. They will grow 10 to 20 ft. vines once mature that will cover an arbor pretty early in the summer and help keep all that hot, messy sunshine off your patio, but then will die back in the winter allowing all the warm comfy sun to reach into your living room through the windows and onto your sofa where you are relaxing with a cup of hot steaming joe.


Desert Milkweed

Also known as Rush Milkweed, or Ajamente.

Asclepias subulata

Native throughout the Sonoran Desert of California, Nevada, Arizona and well into Mexico too. Fairly cold hardy, they will grow 3 to 5 ft. tall.

The flowers are spectacular, the leaves are tiny, and generally they look like bare stems. Hence, we’ve had these plants for a year and nobody has bought them up. Will you take a chance on one?

Desert Milkweed

Asclepias subulata is Hap’s new favorite perennial. These are very cold hardy (down to 20F) and need only a little water through the summer dry season. They’ll get 4 to 5ft. tall and will attract the usual complement of butterflies and bees and even some birds too.

Native to California as well as Arizona and Nevada and down into Baja too. It will get leaves, but they don’t last long.

These are classically inclined to be complementary with a very dry cactus garden, so go ahead and plan it out that way.

Desert Thorn Apple

Datura discolor

Nice flowers. And it’s in the Solanum Family (Solanaceae) so you know the leaves are poisonous. Why is it called Thorn Apple? Because of this:

Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis is kind of a funny plant when small like these. And yet they have these large papery flowery thingys.

Usually a small tree to 15ft. tall, occasionally they can get 25+ft. They like frost in the winter but not so cold that they would get below 0F.

Dudleya Questions


Dudleya brittonii, the Giant Chalk Dudleya from Baja California. Now don’t argue with me here – I have an answer for any objections you might have to my answer below.

Q: How do you differentiate between a dudleya and a echeveria?

(via Instagram)


They are very closely related! But Dudleyas are California native and summer dormant, while Echeverias are Mexican and winter dormant. Also Echeveria flowers are more brightly colored.


Dudleyas for Everyone!

Hi Peter

I was at Cactus Jungle this morning – here is a picture of my succulent that is unidentified. It has been in the ground three years in full sun has not grown much in that time. Looks like a chrysanthemum.

Thank you Hortensia


That’s a Dudleya. We do have those here at the store, out on the floor, but they do not have as much red on the tips as in the photo. It is a very slow growing succulent that forms only small clumps.


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