Snowbrush, also known as mountain balm, is a lovely large evergreen shrub with tremendous habitat value. In early spring, its bright green leaves become shiny and sticky with a delightfully fragrant resin, followed by equally fragrant plumes of white flower clusters. Snowbrush often colonizes burned areas because its seeds are fire-resistant and can remain dormant for many years.
- Plant type/canopy layer: large evergreen shrub
- Size at maturity: 5-15' tall, 8-12’ wide
- Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
- Moisture requirements: dry to seasonally moist soil, must be well-drained
- Bloom time: May to Aug
- Growth rate/ease: medium growth rate, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: leaves are a caterpillar and larval food source (host plant); flowers are a nectar source for adult butterflies, bee, other insect pollinators and humming birds; seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals; overall plant attracts/supports beneficial and pest eating insects and is a food source for deer and elk.
- Native habitat/range: locally common in forest openings and edges across the Pacific Northwest from northern CA north to SW British Columbia though it is not found in some coastal areas nor much of central WA. Portland Plant List - yes.
- Special features & uses: evergreen; pollinator and wildlife favorite; used by native people as a cleansing solution, hair wash for dandruff, and medicinally for skin ailments, diaper rash, and arthritis; landscape uses include pollinator garden, native hedgerow, rock garden, woodland garden openings and edges and erosion control on slopes
Gardening with Snowbrush: This spectacular shrub prefers full sun and well-drained soils, especially disturbed sites where its deep nitrogen-fixing roots can control erosion and restore soil health. It is drought tolerant and excess water can even cause disease and weaken the plant. Its large, evergreen branches make it an excellent choice for native hedgerows and privacy screens.
Photo Credit 1: "2011.07.16_13.07.42_IMG_4088" by andrey_zharkikh is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit 2 & 3: "Ceanothus velutinus - snowbrush ceanothus" by Matt Lavin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit 4 & 5: "Ceanothus velutinus" by Matt Lavin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0