Tag Archives: yerba santa

do i dare plant this?


Do any of you know how this plant would do in a garden setting? It’s thick-leaved yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium) one of our local native species in the phacelia family.


I’ve seen it around in the wild areas of town for a while, and I’ve always liked its odd, stemmy growth habit, with a tuft of serrated gray-green leaves on the ends of straight, floppy or contorted branches. Here’s how it looks in one setting at Torrey Pines State Preserve. You can see all the ways the branches grow, including this big circular loop-de-loop.


Right now yerba santas all around town are in full bloom, bearing these delicate lavender-colored tubular blooms at the ends of their stems. I’m in love.

In most locations I’ve seen the plant growing four to six feet tall, and mounding six to eight feet in width. What I’ve heard some of the native plant people say about how it grows in the wilds–that it spreads widely via underground runners to develop big colonies–is the part that scares me. I think I’d like the effect of its cool stems growing up and through some low groundcovers, but I don’t want it to be the total monster, either.

It’s a plant that makes a statement, but I don’t want the statement to be that I was gullible enough to plant a totally rank plant into the garden!