California fremontia Sterculiaceae Fremontodendron
californicum (Torr.) Coville symbol: FRCA6
Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, 1 to 2 inches long, orbicular, usually with 3 rounded lobes (maple leaf like), and typically three veins coming from the base, occasionally with no lobes and ovate, leathery, dark green to green above with scruffy lighter hairs, nearly white beneath and densely fuzzy. Hairs on leaves may cause skin irritation.
Flower: Very attractive, with 5 broad yellow petal-like sepals, 1 to 2 inches across, appear on short shoots in spring and early summer, may flower throughout summer and into the fall.
Fruit: Egg shaped but pointed, densely hairy, capsule, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, golden brown, splits into 4 or 5 sections when ripe in late summer and fall.
Twig: Young twigs are yellowish brown and densely covered in wooly hairs, older twigs become smooth and gray-brown, numerous spur shoots, naked buds are small and densely hairy, leaf scar with one bundle scar.
Bark: Dark gray and becoming furrowed, with rounded, rough ridges. Inner bark is mucilaginous.
Form: A large shrub or small tree with a short trunk and a sprawling, dense crown up to 20 feet in height. A prostrate subspecies decumbens is also recognized.
Looks like: Mexican fremontia
Additional Range Information: Fremontodendron californicum is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See the full-size PDF map.
External Links: USDAFS FEIS Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information