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Ceanothus (velutinus)

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 velutinus Dougl. ex Hook.
Common Synonym: Ceanothus velutinus Dougl. ex Hook. hookeri
Common Name: Snowbrush ceanthous
Species Code: CEAVEL
Ecotype: West Glacier, MT
General Distribution: Snowbrush ceanothus is found from British Columbia and Alberta south to California, Nevada, and Utah. It ranges south through the Rocky Mountains to Colorado and east to South Dakota. It is found on dry rocky hillsides in open forests and open slopes in the mountains, chaparral and mountain shrub communities and in open mountain grasslands.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 172 ml (10 cu in)
Time To Grow: 8 Months
Target Specifications: Height: 15 cm Caliper: 7 mm Root system: Root tight plug
Propagule Collection: The fruit is a 3-lobed dry capsule that is 4 to 5 mm (0.15 to 0.19 in) wide. Mature seeds are dark red-brown, hard, smooth and glossy at maturity. Dry capsules ripen from August to early October. As the capsules split, seeds are ejected by force so that they can fall some distance away from the mother plant.
Using seed collection bags, made from a mill spun uv resistant polyester fiber with a small enough weave to capture seeds while allowing light transmission allows for the collection of mostly debris free mature seeds. Bags are tied onto developing fruit clusters and capture seeds when they are dispersed by force.
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 135,360 to 335,100 seeds per kilogram (96,000 to 132,000 seeds per pound) (Conard, Merten 2004).
10 year old seeds from this Montana seed source germinated to 98% 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 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, moist stratified for 90 days.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Snowbrush ceanothus forms a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Seeds can be inoculated with Frankia bacteria at time of sowing.
Seedlings are grown in a fully automated greenhouse at 21 to 23 C (14hr)day/ 15 to 16 C (10hr)night alternating temperature cycle.
Seedlings require a highly aerated medium such as 2:1 (v:v)Sunshine mix and large grade perlite.
Seeds are lightly covered with perlite or grit during sowing.
Establishment Phase: Seeds germinate 7 to 10 days after sowing.
Seedlings require careful irrigation pratices, good air flow, and sunlight during growth. Careful attention to irrigation frequency is needed during the establishment phase and must be done in the early morning so foliage can dry during the day. Seedlings are very suseptible to damping-off disease. After seedlings are well established, they must dry down between irrigations.
Length of Establishment Phase: 1 month
Active Growth Phase: During active growth, seedlings can be sub-irrigated to avoid disease problems. Seedlings must dry down between irrigatons.
Seedlings do not need require frequent fertilization. Seedlings can be fertilized 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.
Top-pruning encourages stem diameter growth and branching.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 3 months
Hardening Phase: During mid to late summer, seedlings can 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 the fall or overwintered in the nursery using Microfoam sheets 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
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).
Hitchcock CL, Cronquist A, Ownbey M, Thompson JW. 1994 (sixth printing). Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3 Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. University of Washington Press. Seattle (WA) 614p. ISBN 0-295-73985-1.


Luna, Tara. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Ceanothus velutinus Dougl. ex Hook. plants 172 ml (10 cu in); USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/05/11). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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