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Common Names: Sticky Laurel, Snowbrush ceanothus, Hooker’s ceanothus, Red root, and Tobacco brush
Habitat : Ceanothus velutinus is native to western North America from British Columbia to California to Colorado, where it grows in several habitat types including coniferous forest, chaparral, and various types of woodland.
Ceanothus velutinus is an evergreen Shrub growing up to 4 meters tall but generally remains under three, and forms colonies of individuals which tangle together to form nearly impenetrable thickets. The aromatic evergreen leaves are alternately arranged, each up to 8 centimeters long. The leaves are oval in shape with minute glandular teeth along the edges, and shiny green and hairless on the top surface.
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The plentiful inflorescences are long clusters of white flowers. The fruit is a three-lobed capsule a few millimeters long which snaps open explosively to expel the three seeds onto the soil, where they may remain in a buried seed bank for well over 200 years before sprouting. The seed is coated in a very hard outer layer that must be scarified, generally by wildfire, before it can germinate. Like most other ceanothus, this species fixes nitrogen via actinomycetes on its roots.
Prefers a warm sunny position but tolerates light shade. Tolerates some lime, but will not succeed on shallow chalk. One report says that this species is hardy to zone 5 (tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c) whilst another says that it needs the protection of a wall when grown outdoors in Britain. 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. Plants flower on the previous year’s growth, if any pruning is necessary it is best carried out immediately after flowering has finished. Constant pruning to keep a plant small can shorten its life. Fast growing, it flowers well when young, often in its second year from seed. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The leaves have a strong scent of balsam. 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 within 1 – 2 months at 20°c. 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. It then requires a period of chilling below 5°c for up to 84 days before it will germinat. Seeds have considerable longevity, some that have been in the soil for 200 years or more have germinated. 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:.. Tea…..The leaves are used as a tea substitute
The leaves are febrifuge. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs and fevers. A decoction of the leaves and stems has been used both internally and externally in the treatment of dull pains, rheumatism etc. The leaves contain saponins and have been used as a skin wash that is also deodorant and can destroy some parasites. The wash is beneficial in treating sores, eczema, nappy rash etc.
Baby care; Dye; Insecticide; Soap.
A green dye is obtained from the flowers. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves has been used as a baby powder for treating nappy rash etc. Smoke from burning the plant has been used as an insecticide to kill bedbugs. 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.
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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