E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Ceanothus velutinus Douglas ex Hook.
snowbrush (snowbrush ceanothus)
Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25012)

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Distribution of Ceanothus velutinus
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Species Information

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Evergreen shrub 0.5-2 m tall; stems numerous, prostrate to erect, green, minutely hairy to smooth.
Alternate, the blades egg-shaped to elliptic, 5-10 cm long, smooth, shiny above, often tinged with brown and sticky above, greyish-hairy to smooth below, finely toothed; stalks 1-2 cm long; stipules 1 mm long, deciduous.
Capsules, 4-5 mm long, 3-lobed, separating into 3, dehiscent, rounded carpels, the carpels slightly crested above; seeds 1 per carpel.
Two varieties occur in BC.

1. Leaves smooth on lower surface, at least on the veins; plants occurring W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains....................var. hookeri M. C. Johnson

1. Leaves finely short -hairy on lower surface; plants occurring E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains......................var. velutinus

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry rocky slopes, shrublands, open forests and burns in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common on S BBC except rare on Vancouver Island; E to SW AB and S to SD, CO and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ceanothus velutinus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 316 1030 2020
Slope Gradient (%) 0 38 170
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 188 296
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 5
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(2), ESSF(12), ICH(76), IDF(112), MS(42), PP(13)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Cordilleran North American evergreen shrub. Occurs in continental cool temperate and cool semiarid climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen­medium soils, sites. Scattered to abundant in early-seral communities on disturbed, water-shedding sites; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality (occasional in the coastal-interior ecotone). When forming a shrub layer, it hinders natural regeneration and growth of shade­intolerant conifers. Symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria enhances the supply of available soil nitrogen. Characteristic of continental forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool semiarid.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References