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Ceanothus (sanguineus)

Tara Luna
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Rhamnaceae
Family Common Name: Buckthorn family
Scientific Name: Ceanothus sanguineus Pursh
Common Synonym: Ceanothus oreganus Nutt.
Common Name: Red stem ceanothus
Species Code: CEASAN
Ecotype: West Glacier,Middle fork of Flathead river
General Distribution: Redstem ceanothus is found from British Columbia south to California, and in Idaho and Montana. It is also found in northern Michigan. It inhabits dry rocky hillsides in mixed coniferous and ponderosa pine forests and in brush fields on open slopes in the mountains.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 172 ml (10 cu in)
Time To Grow: 8 Months
Target Specifications: Firm root plug with seedling height at 15 cm (6.0 in).
Propagule Collection: The fruit is a dry capsule that is 4 to 5 mm (0.15 to 0.19 in) wide and 3 lobed. Mature seeds are dark red-brown, hard, smooth and glossy at maturity. The dry fruits ripen from late June to early August, and seeds are rapidly dispersed by force when the capsules open.
As the capsules split, seeds are ejected with force so thatthey can fall some distance away from the mother plant. Using seed collection bags made from a mill spun uv resistant polyester fiber that are a made with a small enough weave to capture the seeds while allowing light transmission are very useful. Bags are tied onto developing fruit clusters and capture the seeds when they are dispersed by force.This also results in collecting mostly debris free seeds. Do not cut branches with immature capsules as they will not ripen properly.
Propagule Processing: If necessary, large seed lots can be screened to remove capsule fragments or passed through a hammermill. Small collections can be rubbed over a screen.
There are 282,185 to 291,005 seeds per kilogram (128,000 to 132,000 seeds per pound)(Conard, Merten 2004).Seeds are apparently very long lived. 10 year old seeds from this Montana seed source germinated to 95% following pretreatments.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seeds exhibit physical-physiological dormancy.
Seeds can be scarified by hot water at temperatures of 80 to 90ø C (176 to 194ø F). Seeds are added to boiling water for only 5 to 10 seconds and then immediately transferred to a vat of cold water so that they cool quickly. Immediate transfer to cold water is important to avoid killing the seeds. The seeds remain in, and imbibe, water for 1 day.
Following scarification, seeds are cold stratified for 90 days.
Sowing Method: Direct seeding
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Seedlings are grown in a fully automated greenhouse.Seedlings need a well drained medium such as 2:1 Sunshine mix and large grade perlite.
Establishment Phase: Seedlings need excellent drainage, good air flow, and sunlight. Damping off disease and foliar diseases can be a problem with this species. Careful attention to irrigation frequency is needed during the establishment phase and should be done in the early morning so foliage can dry during the day.
Length of Establishment Phase: 1 month
Active Growth Phase: During active growth, seedlings can be sub-irrigated to avoid disease problems. They need to dry down well between irrigations.
Seedlings do not need heavy fertilization; recommendations include using a low concentration (30 to 50 ppm Nitrogen) liquid fertilizer 1 to 2 times per week. Inoculated seedlings may not require additional doses of nitrogen fertilizer.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 3 months
Hardening Phase: During mid to late summer, seedlings should be moved to the outdoor nursery to undergo hardening until late fall.
Length of Hardening Phase: 2-3 months
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: seedlings can be planted in late fall or overwintered in the nursery and planted the following spring. Special precautions should be taken for over-wintering this species in containers so that the seedlings do not receive excessive moisture during storage.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Other Comments: Redstem ceanothus forms a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Inoculate seeds with Frankia bacteria at time of sowing.
References: Conard SG, Merten MJ. 2004.The genus Ceanothus. In: Woody Plant Seed Manual (on-line version) URL: http://wpsm.net/Ceanothus.pdf (accessed 26 May 2004).


Luna, Tara. 2005. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Ceanothus sanguineus Pursh plants 172 ml (10 cu in); USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/06/17). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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