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Generally found in sandy, well-drained soil in areas with low precipitation, it can become a striking carpet-like groundcover in undisturbed areas after winter rains. Pink Sand Verbena tolerates seaside conditions and is found on the west coast of the North America from British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico. Sand Verbena is typically found on beaches and sand dunes, below the coastal sage scrub, blooming throughout most of the year.
Abronia umbellata is a prostrate perennial with thick, succulent leaves (leaves occur few to many and are slender, ovate to diamond-shape with stems as long as leaf blades, stems are often hairy) and pink to purple colored flowers with white centers. Flowers occur in clusters subtended by 5-8 lanceolate bracts. The flowers do not have petals, but the calyx lobes are cleft giving the appearance of 10-16 petals. The limbs of the perianth is bright colored sometimes to purplish magenta and the tube can be green or red but always-glandular pubescent. The tube includes one pistil and three stamens.
A. umbellata frequently hybridizes with other species of Abronia, including Abronia maritima. Its flower is fragrant at night and attracts moths. The foliage can be deciduous based on environmental stress. This plant is sometimes used in California in native plant gardening.
History in Europe
Originally described by the British botanist Aylmer Lambert, Abronia umbellata was collected in 1786 from Monterey, California by the gardner Jean Nicolas Collignon of the French La Pérouse expedition, which had stopped at the capitol of Alta California as part of a journey of scientific exploration spanning the Pacific Ocean. While Collignon and his shipmates perished in a wreck near Vanikoro, some of his collection had previously been shipped back to France during a stop at the Portuguese-held Macao, including the seeds of Abronia umbellata. They were planted at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and Lambert eventually named their descendants Abronia umbellata, making this species the first Californian flower described by science.
- Jepson Manual treatment — Ambronia umbellata
- USDA Plants Profile: Abronia umbellata
- Abronia umbellata — UC Photo Gallery
- Cal.Flora.net profile: Abronia umbellata
- Las Pilates Nursery profile: Abronia umbellata
- EFLORA profile: Abronia umbellata
- The University of Texas at Austin treatment: Abronia umbellata
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