Starting a series within a series, I will be highlighting shade plants that grow well underneath trees, especially California Live Oak. I have a deep shade area beneath many trees here in my own garden and i am constantly looking for plants that can help green this area. — Douglas

One of our fire-adapted plants here in California, tolerating burning as long as it is isn’t intense enough to burn the roots of the plant. A flowering shade plant is always appreciated and the white flowers make it stand out in the shade, too.

Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica)

Carpenteria californica0.jpg
By Kurt Stüber [1] part of, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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Carpenteria californica /ˌkɑːrpənˈtɪəriə ˌkælˈfɔːrnkə/,[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.

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 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] 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.

 — Wikipedia

More information on Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica):


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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas