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Zones 4-24
Full Sun
Minimal Water

Fremontodendron mexicanum

Southern Flannel Bush
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees, Flowers


Most fremontia are native to California. They are fast-­growing plants with a typically irregular shape, reaching 20 ft. tall and 12 ft. wide except as noted. Leathery leaves are dark green above, felted beneath. Very showy, typically saucer-shaped ­yellow blossoms in spring. Flowers are followed by persistent conical seed capsules covered with bristly, rust-colored hairs; some people consider them unsightly, and they can irritate skin.

Plants are completely drought-tolerant and will accept occasional moisture during their normally dry period in summer only if drainage is excellent (hillside planting is recommended). Roots are ­shallow, so stake plants when they are young to prevent them from being blown over in windy areas. Pinch young growth to encourage branching; prune off overly long shoots. Remove lower branches to shape into small trees. Locate in front of a sunny wall in marginal climates. ­Plants are usually short-lived.

Fremontodendron mexicanum

Endangered species from Southern California and northern Mexico. Brilliant display of orange-tinted yellow blossoms to 2 1/2 in. across. Blooms less profusely than F. californicum, but flowers appear over a longer period—from late spring well into fall. Leaves reach 3 in. long and have three to five distinct lobes.

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