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Community Forest Food Garden

Forest Garden Plant Profile: Ceanothus

By 28th July 2021August 30th, 2021No Comments

Photo of Ceanothus

Ceanothus (Ceanothus Americanus) is often grown as an ornamental shrub. It is a member of the buckthorn family. Common names for it include Soap bush, Buckbrush and Californian Lilac. The name ‘Ceanothus’ comes from a Greek word meaning spiny plant.

There are many different varieties which have varying shades of flowers ranging from white to vibrant blue and indigo. Its habit (overall shape and form) can be prostrate, upright or arching.

Ceanothus flowers smell pleasant and are a rich source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and moths. This is especially useful as the plant blooms for several months over the summer.

The leaves can be dried when the plant is in full bloom to make a stimulating and refreshing non caffeine tea.

The flowers can be used as soap by crushing them and mixing this with water and used as a gentle, delicately fragranced skin wash or shampoo.

Photo of CeanothusYou can make dyes from the whole plant: green from the flowers, red from the roots and cinnamon from the whole plant.

The roots and bark can be harvested in Autumn or Spring and dried for medicinal use. Indigenous Americans used the plant to treat fevers, catarrh, and sore throats. Today some people still use it to treat asthma, whooping cough, dysentery, sore throats and tonsilitis.

We use Ceanothus in the forest garden as a nitrogen fixer to help other plants to grow.


Find out more about Ceanothus on the PFAF website here.


DISCLAIMER: Any medical properties mentioned in this blog are meant for informational purposes only. They are not meant to be used to diagnose, treat, prescribe, prevent or cure any disease or to administer in any manner to any physical ailments and are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a trained health professional. Herbal remedies can also cause allergic reactions. Please do your own research and consult your heath care professional before treating yourself or anyone else.

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