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Common Name: Squaw Carpet
Ceanothus prostratus is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 0.05 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine..
Western N. America - British Columbia to Colorado and California.
Dry forest floors[
Prefers a warm sunny position but tolerates light shade[
]. Tolerates some lime, but will not succeed on shallow chalk[
]. A difficult plant to cultivate, it might do well in a lime-free soil in full sun and occasionally does well on heavier soils[
This species is particularly susceptible to damage by frost when it is young[
], though it should be hardy as it grows older[
]. The sub-species C. prostratus occidentalis. McMinn. is a form growing by the coast in N. California - it may be a more suitable form for maritime areas[
Plants dislike root disturbance, they should be planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small[
Dislikes heavy pruning, it is best not to cut out any wood thicker than a pencil[
]. Plants flower on the previous year's growth, if any pruning is necessary it is best carried out immediately after the plant has finished flowering[
]. Constant pruning to keep a plant small can shorten its life[
Fast growing, it flowers well when young, often in its second year from seed[
]. The branches are prostrate and often form roots where they touch the soil[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
Some members of this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
A green dye is obtained from the flowers[
All parts of the plant are rich in saponins - when crushed and mixed with water they produce a good lather which is an effective and gentle soap[
]. This soap is very good at removing dirt, though it does not remove oils very well. This means that when used on the skin it will not remove the natural body oils, but nor will it remove engine oil etc[
] The flowers are a very good source, when used as a body soap they leave behind a pleasant perfume on the skin[
]. The developing seed cases are also a very good source of saponins[
A useful ground cover plant, especially on warm sunny slopes[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then given 1 - 3 months stratification at 1°c[
]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 2 months at 20°c[
]. one report says that the seed is best given boiling water treatment, or heated in 4 times its volume of sand at 90 - 120°c for 4 - 5 minutes and then soaked in warm water for 12 hours before sowing it[
]. It then requires a period of chilling below 5°c for up to 84 days before it will germinate[
]. The seed exhibits considerable longevity, when stored for 15 years in an air-tight dry container at 1 - 5°c it has shown little deterioration in viability[
]. The seed is ejected from its capsule with some force when fully ripe, timing the collection of seed can be difficult because unless collected just prior to dehiscence the seed is difficult to extract and rarely germinates satisfactorily[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken at a node[
], mid summer in a frame[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 7 - 12 cm with a heel, early autumn in a cold frame[
]. The roots are quite brittle and it is best to pot up the callused cuttings in spring, just before the roots break[
]. Good percentage.