Ceanothus griseus 'Point Sal' (Point Sal Wild Lilac) – A very modest-sized shrub to 2 1/2 feet tall by 4 to 5 feet wide with 1 1/2 inch long glossy dark green leaves that are narrower than either 'Carmel Creeper' or 'Yankee Point', with deep blue flowers mid-winter through spring in smaller clusters and are also much darker than either of these other two cultivars.
Plant in full sun with infrequent to very little irrigation. Should prove hardy to about 15° F and tolerant to near coastal situations. This plant was planted on the Porter Trail at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden many years ago and maintained its small size. It was a selection made by Carol Bornstein, past director of horticulture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden who with Betsy Collins, the next garden director of horticulture, and botanist Mary Carroll, collected it in 1997 from along the ridge trail on Pt. Sal along the north Santa Barbara County coastline. It has Santa Barbara Botanic Garden accession number 97-61. We grew this selection from 2013 until 2019.
The species has most recently been reclassified as a variety of Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (C. thyrsiflorus var. griseus) but we continue to list it as Ceanothus griseus until such time as this change gets broader recognition. The name Ceanothus griseus was described by Howard McMinn but recent treatment has included this species as a variety of Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, as American botanist William Trelease originally described it in 1897. This makes the correct name for this plant Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus 'Point Sal', but we will continue to list this plant under the older name until this new name becomes more widely accepted. The genus name comes from the Greek word keanthos which was used to describe a type of thistle and meaning a "thorny plant" or "spiny plant" and first used by Linnaeus in 1753 to describe New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus. This older specific epithet (now the variety) is from the Latin word 'grise' meaning gray, possibly referring to the undersides of the leaves with the new epithet referring to flowers being in a thyrse or multiple branching.
Information about Ceanothus griseus 'Point Sal' displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.