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Where to Find Information About Drought-Tolerant Plants

by Clara Josephs and Deb Shaw

Many BAGSC members have been asking about where they can find information about drought-tolerant plants. You can find a lot of information about drought tolerant plants on the web. Here is a section from the Wikipedia entry I was directed to after googling “lemonade berry”:

Rhus integrifolia, the Lemonade Berry’s leaves are simple (unusual in a genus where most species are trifoliate), alternating, evergreen and leathery, ranging from two to four centimeters wide on reddish twigs; length of leaves is five to seven centimeters. Leaves are toothed with a waxy appearance above and a paler tone below. The flowers which appear from February to May are small, clustered closely together, and may be either bisexual or pistillate.[1] These fragrant flowers exhibit radial symmetry with five green sepals, five white to rosy-pink petals, and five stamens. The small flowers are only six millimeters across. The ovary is superior and usually has a single ovule; although in pistillate flowers, the stamens are small and infertile. The mature fruit of Rhus integrifolia is sticky, reddish, covered with hairs, and about seven to ten millimeters in diameter. The elliptical fruit presents tight clusters at the very ends of twigs. Young plants manifest smooth reddish bark, while more mature individuals have cracked, even scaly, grayish bark with the smooth red bark displayed underneath. Twigs are rather stout and flexible, and reddish bud ends are diminutive and pointed. There is often a multi-furcate branching structure from the base of the plant. A mature plant is large and thicket-like with a sprawling arrangement.

Notice how many painting cues for color and structure are in that entry! It also tells me when it flowers.  Very useful and free information! Next, if I hit “images” for lemonade berry – bingo – what a selection!

The following is a list of California Native plants and their drought-tolerant adaptive strategies, compiled for us by Jennifer Funk, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Schmid College of Science and Technology. Please keep in mind that the exhibition is open to any drought-tolerant plants from around the world, not just California natives! This list was handed out at a BAGSC Quarterly meeting earlier this year. Future articles on the blog will list characteristics of drought-tolerant plants.

Let us know your questions, or any future articles you would like to see on the blog about drought-tolerant plants.

A few drought-tolerant species, all native to southern California: Scientific name, Common name

Drought deciduous (plants that drop their leaves during dry season or periods of dryness) Achillea millefolium, Common Yarrow Calliandra eriophylla, Pink Fairy Duster Encelia californica, California Bush Sunflower Encelia farinosa, Brittlebush Keckellia antirhhinum, Yellow Bush Penstemon Ribes aureum, Golden currant

Small leaves (small leaves have a reduced surface area, and so lose less water) Adenostoma fasciculatum, Chamise Arctostaphylos species, Manzanita Artemisia californica, California sagebush Ceanothus species, Ceanothus Cercocarpus minutiflorus, San Diego Mountain Mahogany Epilobium canum, California Fuchsia Ericameria cuneata, Wedgeleaf goldenbush Eriogonum fasciculatum, California buckwheat Hazardia squarrosa, Saw-toothed Goldenbush Isocoma menziesii, Coastal Goldenbush Isomeris arborea, Bladderpod Lotus scoparius, Deer Weed Lycium californicum, Coastal Boxthorn Mimulus aurantiacus, Bush Monkeyflower Prunus ilicifolia, Hollyleaf Cherry

Deep taproot (taproots find water sources deep below the soil surface, and are often thick and fleshy, so they can store available water) Pinus species, Pine Platanus racemosa, California Sycamore Populus fremontii, Western Cottonwood Quercus agrifolia, Coast live oak

Succulent leaves (succulent plants store water in their fleshy leaves, stems and roots) Agave species, Agave Cylindropuntia prolifera, Coastal Cholla Dudleya species, Dudleya Opuntia species, Prickly pear cactus Yucca schidigera, Mohave Yucca Yucca whipplei, Chaparral Candle

Pubescent leaves (pubescent leaves are covered with hairs, which may be tiny or long, and which help hold water and reflect the hot rays of the sun) Asclepias californica, California Milkweed Encelia farinosa, Brittlebush Galvezia speciosa, Island Bush Snapdragon Malacothamnus fasciculatus, Chaparral Mallow, Bush Mallow Salvia apiana, White sage

Evergreen, sclerophylous leaves (evergreen leaves stay on the plant year-round; sclerophylous leaves have a hard surface and are frequently closely spaced together) Arbutus menziesii, Madrone Baccharis pilularis, Coyote brush Eriodictyon crassifolium, Thick-laved yerba santa Heteromeles arbutifolia, Toyon Malosma laurina, Laurel sumac Rhamnus species, Coffeeberry Rhus integrifolia, Lemonadeberry Rhus ovata, Sugar bush Salvia leucophylla, Purple sage Salvia mellifera, Black sage Sambucus Mexicana, Mexican elderberry

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