Ceanothus americanus.jpg
Ceanothus americanus flowers
Scientific classification


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Ceanothus L. s/[2] is a genus of about 50–60 species of nitrogen-fixing[3] shrubs or small trees in the family Rhamnaceae.[4] Common names for members of this genus are California lilac, wild lilac, and soap bush.[5] "Ceonothus" comes from a Greek word meaning "spiny plant",[5] Ancient Greek: κεάνωθος (keanōthos), which was applied by Theophrastus (371–287 BC) to an Old World plant believed to be Cirsium arvense.[6][7]

The genus is endemic to North America, with the center of its distribution in California. Some species (e.g., C. americanus) are found in the eastern United States and southeast Canada, and others (e.g. C. coeruleus) extend as far south as Guatemala. Most are shrubs 0.5–3 metres (1.6–9.8 ft) tall, but C. arboreus and C. thyrsiflorus, both native to California, can be small multi-trunked trees up to 6–7 metres (20–23 ft) tall.

Taxonomy and etymology

There are two subgenera within this genus: Ceanothus and Cerastes. The former clade is less drought-resistant, having bigger leaves. The evolution of these two clades likely started with a divergence in the niches filled in local communities, rather than a divergence on the basis of geography.[8]

The Californian species of Ceanothus are commonly known collectively as California lilacs, with individual species having more descriptive common names. Species native elsewhere have other common names, such as 'New Jersey tea' for C. americanus, since its leaves were used as a black tea substitute during the American Revolution.[4][9] In garden use, most are simply called by their scientific names or an adaptation of the scientific name, such as 'Maritime ceanothus' for C. maritimus.

Other Languages
català: Ceanothus
Cebuano: Ceanothus
čeština: Latnatec
dansk: Ceanothus
Deutsch: Säckelblumen
Diné bizaad: Chʼįdą́ą́ʼ
español: Ceanothus
français: Céanothe
português: Ceanothus
svenska: Ceanothus
Winaray: Ceanothus