Herbs & Plants

Ceanothus fendleri

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Botanical Name :Ceanothus fendleri
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Ceanothus
Species: C. fendleri
Order: Rosales

Common Names : Fendler’s Buckbrush, Deer brier,Fendler’s Ceanothus

Habitat : Ceanothus fendleri is native to Western N. America – S. Dakota to Wyoming and Utah, south to Mexico . It grows in most situations other than deserts, but especially in pine forests in the southern Rockies, 1500 – 3000 metres.

Ceanothus fendleri is a deciduous Shrub growing to maximum  2 m (6ft 7in) at a fast rate.
It seldom exceeds 1 m (3.3 ft) tall. The stems and twigs are grayish green when young, reddish brown when mature, armed with spines up to 2.5 cm (0.98 in) long. The leaves are grayish green and thick, with dense woolly hair on the underside.

The flowers are about 2 mm across and white, borne in thick clusters emanating from the leaf axils, particularly on the older stems. They all open at once, so the plant is covered with bloom. This usually happens in June or July, but may be any time from April to October according to the altitude and weather. As in other ceanothuses, there are five spoon-shaped or hooded petals, each partly covering a stamen.
The fruits are three-celled capsules, pink and glossy, forming an approximate rounded equilateral triangle with the stem at the center. They typically ripen in August and September. When dry these pods exhibit explosive dehiscence, throwing the seeds out forcefully. The seeds are glossy dark brown, about 2 mm across

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
Prefers a warm sunny position but tolerates light shade. Tolerates some lime, but will not succeed on shallow chalk. One of the hardiest members of this genus, it succeeds outdoors in many areas of the country. Plants dislike root disturbance, they should be planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small. Dislikes heavy pruning, it is best not to cut out any wood thicker than a pencil. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring. Fast growing, it flowers well when young, often in its second year from seed. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Some members of this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then given 1 – 3 months stratification at 1°c. Germination usually takes place in 1 – 2 months at 20°c[138]. One report says that the seed is best given boiling water treatment, or heated in 4 times its volume of sand at 90 – 120°c for 4 – 5 minutes and then soaked in warm water for 12 hours before sowing it. The seed exhibits considerable longevity, when stored for 15 years in an air-tight dry container at 1 – 5°c it has shown little deterioration in viability. The seed is ejected from its capsule with some force when fully ripe, timing the collection of seed can be difficult because unless collected just prior to dehiscence the seed is difficult to extract and rarely germinates satisfactorily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 7 – 12 cm with a heel, October in a cold frame. The roots are quite brittle and it is best to pot up the callused cuttings in spring, just before the roots break. Good percentage

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Fruit; Inner bark.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit.... Used for food in New Mexico. The berries are sweetened with sugar and used as food. The fruit is about 5mm wide. Strips of the inner bark can be eaten in the summer. The leaves are used as a substitute for tea.
Medicinal Uses:
The plant is sedative. An infusion has been used to treat nervousness and a poultice of the plants also used for this purpose. The leaves have been chewed to treat a sore mouth.

Other Uses:
Dye; Soap.

A green dye is obtained from the flowers. All parts of the plant are rich in saponins – when crushed and mixed with water they produce a good lather which is an effective and gentle soap. This soap is very good at removing dirt, though it does not remove oils very well. This means that when used on the skin it will not remove the natural body oils, but nor will it remove engine oil etc The flowers are a very good source, when used as a body soap they leave behind a pleasant perfume on the skin. The developing seed cases are also a very good source of saponins.

Animal interactions: Deer are particularly fond of browsing on Fendler’s ceanothus. In a study at Beaver Creek, Arizona, it was important to mule deer all year and constituted up to 6.9 percent of their summer diet and might constitute even more where other forage species are less common. Elk also eat it, as North American porcupines, jackrabbits, and livestock do to a lesser extent.

The caterpillars of Erynnis pacuvius, the buckthorn duskywing, feed on this plant and other species of Ceanothus.

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.