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Santolina chamaecyparissus

(Cotton Lavender)


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Medium growing spreading perennial . Small yellow flowers. Fragrant, evergreen gray foliage make this a valuable edging and rock garden perennial. Likes sun. Blooms beginning in late summer. Height 18-24 inches. Spacing 15-18 inches. Prefers well-drained sandy or loamy soil in full sun . Cut back each spring . Prune hard after flowering in June. Zones 6-8..

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Catalan, Valencian:


Common Names in English:

Cotton Lavender, Gray Santolina, Lavender Cotton, Lavender-Cotton

Common Names in French:

Santoline petit cyprès

Common Names in German:

Graues Heiligenkraut

Common Names in Ido:


Common Names in Polish:

Santolina cyprysikowata


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Family Compositae

The largest family of flowering plants , the Compositae (Asteraceae), comprising about 1,100 genera and more than 20,000 species and characterized by many small flowers arranged in a head looking like a single flower and subtended by an involucre of bracts. A head may consist of both ray flowers and disk flowers, as in the sunflower, of disk flowers only, as in the burdock, or of ray flowers only, as in the dandelion.

Genus Santolina

Subshrubs , [5-]10-60 cm (sometimes ± rhizomatous ; aromatic ). Stems usually 1, ± erect [decumbent to ascending ], branched mostly from bases [± throughout], often tomentose to lanate , sometimes glabrate or glabrous [sericeous ] (hairs mostly medifixed ) and gland-dotted. Leaves cauline [mostly basal]; alternate; petiolate or sessile; blades narrowly oblong or spatulate to linear , usually 1-pinnately lobed (lobes usually crowded and overall effect ± vermiform ), ultimate margins entire or ± crenate, faces usually arachnose or tomentose to lanate, sometimes glabrate or glabrous [sericeous]. Heads discoid , borne singly (pedunculate ). Involucres campanulate to hemispheric or broader, [3-]6-10[-12+] mm diam. Phyllaries persistent (soon indurate ), 18-45+ in 3(-5+) series, distinct , lanceolate to elliptic (usually carinate ), unequal, margins and apices (usually light to dark brown, sometimes purple) scarious (abaxial faces glabrous or ± arachnose, glabrescent ). Receptacles convex to hemispheric, paleate; paleae ± lanceolate, ± navicular (each with central resin duct ). Ray florets 0. Disc florets mostly 60-250+, bisexual , fertile ; corollas pale to bright or deep yellow [whitish], tubes often compressedwinged and/or saccate , ± clasping apices of cypselae), throats ± funnelform , lobes 5, lance-ovate. Cypselae obconic to obovoid , sometimes slightly obcompressed , 3-5-angled, faces glabrous (pericarps sometimes with myxogenic cells , without resin sacs) ; pappi 0. x = 9.

Species 8-12+: introduced ; s Europe, n Africa.[1]

Physical Description

Species Santolina chamaecyparissus

Subshrubs , silvery-gray to white. Leaf blades 1-pinnately lobed , 10-20(-40) × 1-3(-5) mm. Peduncles 3-6 cm. Phyllaries carinate , apices of inner rounded , ± lacerate to fimbrillate . Corollas 3-4 mm, gland-dotted. Cypselae 2.5-3 mm, angles sometimes narrowly winged . 2n = 18. [source]

Santolina chamaecyparissus is widely cultivated and probably persists in the flora area in states other than those listed here. [source]

Habit: Mounding

Flowers: Button-like flowers. Blooms in the summer. • Bloom Period: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October. • Flower Color: Yellow • Flower Conspicuous: Small button-shaped blooms on long stems

Foliage: Aromatic , silver-tinged, toothed , finely cut and ferm-like • Foliage Shape: OblongNormal foliage color: Gray • Underside foliage: Gray • Juvenile foliage: Gray • Mature foliage: Gray • New foliage: Gray • Spring foliage: Gray • Summer foliage: Gray • Fall foliage: Gray • Winter foliage: Gray


Growth Rate: Moderate Growing • Size: Moderate grower to 1½ ft . tall, 3 ft. wide.


Care: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system . Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring . For a formal appearance , shear annually after flowering.


Disturbed sites, abandoned plantings ; 0-400 m

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,701 meters (0 to 15,423 feet).[2]


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Duration: Perennial


Culture: Space 9-12" apart.

Soil: Prefers organic soil. Needs good drainage . • Minimum pH: 6.6 • Maximum pH: 9.0

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full sun

Moisture: Water Requirements: Water regularly, when top 3" of soil is dry.

Temperature: Heat Zones: High: 9 (>120 to 150 days) Low:5 (>30 to 45 days) (map) • Cold Hardiness: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b. (map)


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Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: Data Providers: SANBI, New Zealand Plant Name Database, Flora Malesiana, Govaerts World Compositae Checklist A-G, IPNI, Tropicos, Euro+Med, Colombia. GCC LSID: urn

Last scrutiny: 15-Aug-09

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Santolina

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 11 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

S. chamaecyparissus (Cotton Lavender) · S. chamaecyparissus 'Lemon Queen' (Cotton Lavender) · S. chamaecyparissus 'Nana' (Cotton Lavender) · S. chamaecyparissus 'Pretty Carroll' (Cotton Lavender) · S. incana (Lavender Cotton) · S. incana neapolitana (Neapolitan Santolina) · S. incana 'Nana' (Lavender Cotton) · S. pinnata (Green Santolina) · S. rosmarinifolia (Green Lavender Cotton) · S. rosmarinifolia 'Morning Mist' (Green Lavender Cotton) · S. virens (Green Lavender Cotton)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 29, 2007:



  1. Linda E. Watson "Santolina". in Flora of North America Vol. 19, 20 and 21 Page 26, 487, 497. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  2. Mean = 231.190 meters (758.497 feet), Standard Deviation = 393.790 based on 110,676 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-11-21