Native Shrubs

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Interpretive Panel #4 - Native Shrubs 

Spanish Version Located Here

As part of the Centennial Park Restoration Project, hundreds of community volunteers worked with the City of Vacaville, Solano Resource Conservation District, and the California Natural Resources Agency to plant over 1,500 native shrubs in the Park, including: 

• Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
• California buckwheat (Eriogonum faciculatum)*
• California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)*
• California rose (Rosa californica)
• California blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
• Coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis)
• Dwarf coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Point')*
• Golden currant (Ribes aureum)
• Hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia)
• Leather root (Hoita macrostachya)
• Mule fat (Baccharis salicifolia)
• Red stem dogwood (Cornus sericea)
• Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)*
• Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)*

These shrubs are all native to the northern Central Valley and/or the surrounding hillsides.  They therefore survive well in the Centennial Park environment without supplemental irrigation once they are established.  They were selected because they provide high-quality habitat for local wildlife - some in terms of producing food (nectar, pollen, seeds, berries, etc.) and others because they provide physical structure that animals can hide in or build nests out of.  You can browse through photos of these and other native plants at UC Berkeley’s CalPhoto website:  

Local residents who want to support local wildlife and beautify their landscaping can easily incorporate many of these plants into their home gardens.  Several local organizations (including the California Native Plant Society, the UC Davis Arboretum, and Solano Resource Conservation District) hold native plant sales each year – usually in the fall, which is the best time to plant natives.  Contact the individual organizations to find out the specifics for their native plant sales.  

* Plants marked above with an asterisk are drought tolerant and work particularly well in garden settings in Vacaville.  They are attractive, provide essential resources for wildlife and (once they are established) require very little supplemental water.  See below for more details:

Buckwheat - California is home to hundreds of buckwheat species, a number of which work well in residential landscaping.  Most are small (less than 2 feet tall) with dense clusters of flowers atop long stems.  The flowers vary in color depending upon the species, and are an important source of nectar for butterflies. 

Buckwheat Katherine Holmes
California buckwheat (Eriogonum faciculatum). Photo credit: Katherine Holmes, Solano RCD

California fuchsia has scraggly, non-descript grey-green foliage that grows about 12 inches tall and spreads like a groundcover.  It is not particularly noticeable much of the year, but it explodes with bright red trumpet-shaped flowers in late summer and fall.  These flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.

Fushia Katherine Holmes 
California fuchsia (Epilobium canum). Photo credit: Katherine Holmes, Solano RCD

Dwarf coyote bush is a compact, evergreen shrub that grows 2-4 feet tall and spreads 6-10 feet wide.  It’s glossy green leaves and softly-rounded shape make it a great background garden plant.  It blooms in late fall/early winter with thousands of small white blossoms that provide an indispensable source of nectar and pollen for bees and other insects when little else is blooming. 

Dwarf Coyote Bush C2015 Zoya Akulova Cal Photos Creative Commons Copyright
Dwarf coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Point'). Photo credit: © 2015 Zoya Akulova (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Toyon is another evergreen shrub with glossy, green leaves, but it grows 6-10 feet tall, with a similar spread. Each spring, toyon shrubs are covered with large clusters of white flowers which turn into large clusters of brilliant red berries that last through the winter.  Numerous birds and other wildlife depend upon these berries to help survive the cold months.

Toyon C2013 Keir Morse Cal Photos Creative Commons Copyright
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) Photo Credit: © 2013 Keir Morse (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Western redbud is a large deciduous shrub (or small, multi-stemmed tree) that can grow up to 15-20 feet tall. It features lovely sprays of magenta-colored flowers each spring, which are visited by multitudes of bees and butterflies.  These flowers turn into rusty red pods in the fall, which are filled with nutrient-rich seeds relished by quail, turkeys and other wildlife.

Redbud C2009 Barry Breckling Creative Commons copyright 
Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis). Photo credit: ©2009 Barry Breckling (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

This information has been provided by the City of Vacaville in partnership with the Solano Resource Conservation District.  It was last updated on May 20, 2020.