Our Plants

November Plant Highlight: Colletia cruciata
C. cruciata flower   C. cruciata foliage

One of the botanical oddities at the Ruth Bancroft Garden is the “anchor plant”, Colletia cruciata.  The “anchors” referred to in its common name are stiff triangular flanges which jut out from the stems in opposite pairs, each pair held at right angles to the pair below.  These flanges are actually modified stems, and each ends in a sharp spine.  C. cruciata is a well-branched shrub, and grows up to 10 feet tall.  It lacks leaves and carries out photosynthesis in the stems, so the whole plant, including the “anchors”, is a deep green color.

The blooming time for Colletia cruciata is in the fall, and our plant at the Ruth Bancroft Garden bears a profusion of small white flowers in October and November.  These lack true petals, but the sepals are petal-like and attractive.  They are fused into a tube at the base, and separate into lobes which curl back at the tips.   The flowers have a sweet smell, though this is not pronounced.

The genus Colletia consists of spiny shrubs belonging to the family Rhamnaceae.  In California, this family is notable for the many species of Ceanothus, often called “California lilac”, and also for the coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica.  All members of Colletia, however, are native to the southern portion of South America, below the tropical zone along the equator.   C. cruciata occurs in Uruguay and southern Brazil.  It is reputed to tolerate temperatures as low as 10° F.

Text and Photos by Brian Kemble

Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.
Centennial Celebration
We are celebrating Garden Founder Ruth Bancroft's 100th year throughout 2009. If you would like to get involved in this historic milestone, you can help by contributing to the Centennial Fund or by attending on of our many special events this year.
Grant Funders
The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position, and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our Volunteer Coordinator’s position, as well as for their generous support over the years.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy