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Anemopsis californica (photo courtesy of J. S. Sira/Garden Picture Library/Photolibrary)
Anemopsis californica (photo courtesy of J. S. Sira/Garden Picture Library/Photolibrary)

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Zone
Zones 4-24, H1
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Anemopsis californica

Yerba Mansa
Saururaceae
Perennials

Native to wetlands of the southwestern U.S. and adjacent areas of Mexico. This vigorously spreading, low-growing perennial is a good choice for planting alongside a stream or pond; beneath a moisture-loving tree; or in a low, wet part of the garden. Tolerates alkaline and salty soils. Leaves and roots are used as a traditional medicine to treat a variety of ills.

Plants grow about 1 ft. tall and spread at least 2–3 ft. wide, eventually forming large, dense colonies. Upright stems hold thick, fleshy, deep green leaves 2–6 in. long; foliage has a strong, spicy, musty scent that is detectable from a distance on warm days. In late spring or summer, erect flower spikes rise just above the foliage mass, each topped with a conelike inflorescence dotted with tiny white flowers. Large, snowy white bracts at the base of each spike give the impression of a single flower. The whole plant takes on reddish hues as weather cools, turning brick red by winter. Cut back or mow to the ground each winter for fresh spring growth.

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