Herbs & Plants

Fremontodendron californicum

Botanical Name: Fremontodendron californicum
Family: Malvaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Genus: Fremontodendron
Species: F. californicum

Synonyms : Chiranthodendron californicum. Fremontia californica.

Common Names:Flannel Flower, California flannelbush, Common Flannel Bush

Habitat: Fremontodendron californicum is native to South-western N. America – California and Arizona. It grows on dry, mostly granitic slopes, 900 – 1800 metres in California. It thrives on poor dry rocky soils of the foothills, where it often forms dense thickets.

The plant is a flowering evergreen hardwood shrub or small multi-trunked tree, growing from 8–18 feet (2.4–5.5 m) in height and 6–10 feet (1.8–3.0 m) in width.

The 1–5 centimetres (0.39–1.97 in) leaves are olive to gray?green, fuzzy and flannel-like, palmately to pinnately lobed. The hairs covering the leaves are easily brushed off in human contact, and can be a skin and eye irritant.

The large flowers are 3.5–6.0 centimetres (1.4–2.4 in) in diameter, a rich yellow, sometimes with orange, coppery, or reddish margins. They blossoms are borne in great showy masses, and tend to bloom one at a time. Each petal has an attractive, curved shape that comes to a point.


Requires a light well-drained poorish soil. in full sun in a position sheltered from cold drying winds. Tolerates light shade. Prefers a hot dry situation according to one report whilst another says that it does best against a north, west or east wall, a southern exposure usually being too hot and dry. Tolerates very chalky soils. Plants produce lush growth when growing in rich soils at the expense of flowering. This species is not hardy in the open at Kew, though it succeeds in the open in milder areas of the country. Plants tolerate temperatures down to about -15°c, especially once they are more than 1.5 metres tall. Plants are relatively fast growing. Resents root disturbance and should be planted into its final position when quite young. Plants do not seem to be long lived in cultivation, about 20 years being considered old age. They are subject to sudden collapse and death, even if they have been growing and flowering well. This is probably the result of excessive wet or of the plant failing to fully ripen its wood. The stems die back if the bark is cracked by frost or abrasion. Plants can be pruned in mid to late summer, this will generate new growth and more flowers. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Special Features:North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Medicinal Uases:
The inner bark is used as a poultice. One report says that the bark has similar properties to Ulmus rubra (Slippery Elm Bark). These properties are as follows:- Slippery elm bark is a widely used herbal remedy and is considered to be one of the most valuable of remedies in herbal practice. In particular, it is a gentle and effective remedy for irritated states of the mucous membranes of the chest, urinary tubules, stomach and intestines. The inner bark contains large quantities of a sticky slime that can be dried to a powder or made into a liquid. The inner bark is harvested in the spring from the main trunk and from larger branches, it is then dried and powdered for use as required. Ten year old bark is said to be best. Fine grades of the powder are best for internal use, coarse grades are better suited to poultices. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Arctium lappa, Rumex acetosella and Rheum palmatum. The inner bark is demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, nutritive. It has a soothing and healing effect on all parts of the body that it comes into contact with and is used in the treatment of sore throats, indigestion, digestive irritation, stomach ulcers etc. It used to be frequently used as a food that was a nutritive tonic for the old, young and convalescents. It was also applied externally to fresh wounds, burns and scalds. The bark has been used as an antioxidant to prevent fats going rancid. The whole bark, including the outer bark, has been used as a mechanical irritant to abort foetuses. Its use became so widespread that it is now banned in several countries.

Other Uses: Landscape Uses:Container, Espalier, Hedge, Specimen. The bark can be made into cordage then used in making nets etc. Wood – fine-grained, hard to soft, heavy. It is not used commercially due to the small size of the tree.

Known Hazards: The stem is clothed with brown hairs which rub off easily and can be a severe irritant. When pruning it is best to wear a mask. The eyes can be badly affected

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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