Adenostema sparsifolium

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Botanical Name: Adenostoma sparsifolium
Common Name: Redshanks or Ribbonwood

Long-lived shrub (100+ years). Yellow-green bark turns red with age and shreds off. Attractive foliage is heather-like. Birds are fond of the seeds. Likes good drainage.

Plant Family: Rosaceae
Plant Type: Shrub
Height by Width: 6-20' H x 15' W
Growth Habit: Tree-like, sometimes multi-branched
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Moderate
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Drought-tolerant to occasional
Cold Hardy to: 15 degrees F
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: White
Endangered?: Not listed
Distribution: South Central Coast, Outer South Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges, Baja
Natural Habitat: Chaparral, dry slopes, and mesas below 6,000 feet

Songbird iconA.jpg Butterfly iconA.jpg Clay iconA.jpg Slope iconA.jpg

Care and Maintenance

  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "Erect growing shrub 8 to 15 feet high, with small light green leaves and spikes of white flowers. The trunks are cinnamon-colored with reddish shredding bark, giving rise to the common names of red shank, ribbon wood, etc. A good shrub for a hot dry place. Gallon cans, 75c."
Other Names
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.
  • Harlow, Nora and Kristin Jakob. Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening with California Monocots. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 2003.