Coniferous forests and open plateaus
Pacific Northwest, California, and Nevada
No listed status
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Mahala mat is an evergreen, ground cover plant that flowers both in the winter and spring. Mahala mat leaves have characteristic serrated leaf edges. On the undersides, the leaves are more pale in color as well as soft to the touch. These plants are members of the buckthorn family.
Mahala mat is unique as it is a nitrogen fixing plant, meaning it provides nutrients to other plants. It is good for erosion control and therefore is often used in restoration projects.
Mahala mat flowers grow in small clusters of deep blue or purple flowers in the spring and winter. The fruit resembles a wrinkled capsule one-half to one centimeter long.
Mahala mat has been commonly used by indigenous Americans as a makeshift playpen. The center of the sprawling plant would be removed and a baby would be placed in the bare spot. When the children would try to crawl outside of the center, the pokiness of the plant would keep them in the center. Therefore, caretakers could work and be ensured their children would wander off.
California Native Plant Society, Pinemat, 2021, https://calscape.org/Ceanothus-prostratus-()
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