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California false indigo (Amorpha californica var. californica) is a spring bloomer with handsome spikes of deep violet flowers. This deciduous shrub is classified in the pea family, though the flower looks nothing like a typical pea flower. Each floret is composed of a single reduced petal off-set by contrasting white stamens tipped with bright yellow/orange anthers. Amorpha Read more…


The nightshade family or Solanaceae is familiar to most of us: tomatoes, eggplants, and most sweet and hot peppers are closely related to blue witch. Unlike our cultivated culinary classics, Solanum umbelliferum is not edible to humans or pets (in fact, it is highly toxic if ingested). Its fruit however, are a great treat for many visiting and resident Read more…


Sticky or bush monkeyflower Diplacus aurantiacus is so common in our area that most of the time, we barely notice it. But this time of year, when the kaleidoscope of spring has begun to settle its relentless color shift the monkeyflower provides a bit of warm sparkle. Most commonly seen in coastal scrub, it also grows in Read more…


Western spicebush Calycanthus occidentalis is a bold textured deciduous shrub. In the wild it is found in the lower elevations of the mountains of California and Oregon growing along creeks, ponds margins, canyon bottoms and in moist woodland settings. Named for its strong scent in leaf, stem and flower, some say the aroma is camphor-like others declare Read more…


Foothill penstemon Penstemon heterophyllus is an eye catching many branched sub-shrub with flowers “in all nuances of blue.” So says Lester Rowntree famed for her 1930s solo plant exploration trips into the wilds of California. Rowntree is beloved by many for her writing from a gardener’s perspective about the plants she observed by driving up and down Read more…


by Nicole Witch-Hazel One of the delightful plants we propagate at Oaktown Native Plant Nursery is wild ginger Asarum caudatum. Wild ginger is an attractive evergreen ground-cover for under redwoods and moist, shady places. It also grows well in large sized deep containers, kept damp but with good drainage. Asarum loves a loamy sandy soil mix. It’s Read more…


Blue blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. thyrsiflorus) is emblematic of our coastal California gardens and post fire successional plant communities. This magnificent large-scale, fast growing shrub also known as California lilac is hard to miss. The bloom is happening right now. On a walk through local gardens or in an open space area burned within the last 10 Read more…


Indian lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a wide spread annual common to coastal and mountainous regions of western North America. Typically seen cloaking the forest floor in cool moist places after the rains begin, it then dries up as the rains depart. During late summer and fall you will see no sign of the plant. Indian lettuce is Read more…


Each year at Thanksgiving time I enjoy the flaming foliage on the ‘Roger’s Red’ grape. This locally popular vine was originally wild collected by Roger Raiche in Sonoma County in the fall of 1983. Initially Raiche guessed it to be a variant of the California wild grape Vitis californica. The dominant fall color on the wild grape Read more…


Our November Plant Of The Month, Ithuriel’s spear Triteleia laxa is a spring flowering geophyte. The statement begs two questions. Why feature a plant that at this point in the autumn has long since died back? And what the heck is a geophyte? The answers are related. Fall is the time to plant native California “bulbs”. Often Read more…