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Carpenteria californica0.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Cornales
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Subfamily: Hydrangeoideae
Tribe: Philadelpheae
Genus: Carpenteria
Species: C. californica
Binomial name
Carpenteria californica

Carpenteria californica /ˌkɑːrpənˈtɪəriə ˌkælɪˈfɔːrnɪkə/,[1] the sole species in the genus Carpenteria, with the common names tree anemone and bush anemone.

It is a flowering evergreen shrub native to the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. It is closely related to the genus Philadelphus.

Watercolor of Carpenteria californica by Albert Robert Valentien.


It is a rare species, endemic to only seven sites in Fresno and Madera Counties, where it grows in chaparral and oak woodlands between 340–1,340 m (1,115–4,396 ft) altitude in the Sierra Nevada, between the San Joaquin River and Kings River. It is well adapted to wildfire, reproducing by stump sprouts after burning. Natural seedlings are rare.


Carpenteria californica grows to 1–3 m (3 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in) tall, with flaky bark on older stems. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate, 4–10 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad, glossy green above, blue-green to whitish and downy beneath.

The flowers are 3–7 cm diameter, with 5-8 pure white petals and a cluster of yellow stamens; flowering is from late spring to mid summer. The fruit is a leathery capsule 6–12 mm diameter, containing numerous seeds.


Carpenteria californica is cultivated as an ornamental plant, grown for its lush appearing foliage, seasonal flowers and drought tolerance. It is used in traditional, native plant, and wildlife gardens in California and other Mediterranean climates, and in colder locations.[2][3]

It has been in cultivation since 1875, and is now much more common in gardens than in its natural habitat. It first flowered in England for Gertrude Jekyll at Godalming in 1885.[3] <!—(AGM withdrawn or inaccurate)The species has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[4]—>

Cultivars include:

  • Carpenteria californica 'Bodnant' — cold-tolerant cultivar, hardy to −15 °C (5 °F) in the British Isles
  • Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth' — masses of smaller white flowers, more compact growth habit[5]
  • Carpenteria californica 'Ladham's' — large flowers

The cultivar ‘Elizabeth’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[6]


The genus was named in honor of Dr. William Marbury Carpenter,[7] a noted botanist from Louisiana.

Note that Carpenteria should not be confused with the similarly spelled Carpentaria, a genus of palms native to northern Australia.


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ NPIN−Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Carpenteria californica
  3. ^ a b Western Horticultural Society: Carpenteria californica Archived 2015-04-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^
  5. ^ San Marcos Growers horticulture database: Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth'
  6. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth'". Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  7. ^ Glenn R. Conrad, ed.: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I, A to M, The Louisiana Historical Association, New Orleans, La., 1988, pp. 24, 153-154, 303. 557.

External links[edit]