Ceanothus velutinus var. laevigatus

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USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6b 0º to -5ºF

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Ceanothus velutinus var. laevigatus

Mountain balm, snowbrush,  tobacco brush and var. laevigatus is the western Oregon form of this widespread aromatic evergreen species. Fast growing and not terribly long  lived this shrub has widely dispersed seed that germinates upon disturbance, especially fire. Large glossy aromatic foliage gives away its common names as it emits a sweet balsam some say tobacco fragrance. The heavily veined leaves are large and round and seem to be varnished with this sweet perfume.  Rapid growth to 12′ x 12′ in 10 years. The more fertile the soil the larger and shorter lived this pretty shrub will be. Give it average conditions and no supplemental summer water. In May to early June cones of frothy fragrant white flowers protrude from the glossy foliage. Black seeds follow and they are dispersed explosively as well as eaten by birds. These black seeds can remain dormant for generations until they wake. It is found locally in the northern Willamette valley especially around the Tonquin scablands a kolk remnant of the Bretz flood just south of Portland. Expect a lifespan of about 15 years, more with neglect. Blooms on wood from the previous season prune if needed after blooming in June. This is a large shrub and it will reach its ultimate size very quickly, Give it room. Ultra cold hardy to -5ºF on the west side of the Cascades. This fast growing shrub does not appreciate pot culture, plant from the smallest size possible  Oregon native plant.

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