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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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Zones 4-24, H1
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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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