Flannelbush, Fremontodendron

The flannelbush or flannel bush (Fremontodendron, syn. Fremontia) is a genus of two species of shrubs found in the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. They are currently treated within the Malvaceae in the tribe Fremontodendreae together with the genus Chiranthodendron, but were formerly included in the segregate family Sterculiaceae.

This plant gets its name from its leaves which have a leathery and fuzzy texture reminiscent of flannel. The yellow and orange flowers are large and showy. The hairs of the leaves and young shoots can cause skin irritation. The genus is named after John C. Frémont.

There are two species: the California Flannelbush F. californicum, and the Mexican Flannelbush F. mexicanum, and a number of populations of uncertain status. In addition, a number of hybrid cultivars have been produced, including ‘California Glory’, ‘Ken Taylor’, and ‘Pacific Sunset’.

The Pine Hill Flannelbush F. californicum ssp. decumbens is a rare variety known only from the Pine Hill Preserve in El Dorado County, California, though populations in Nevada County and Yuba County are very similar and best treated in this subspecies. The Napa Flannelbush F. californicum ssp. napense occurs in Napa and adjacent counties, and Thickleaf California Flannelbush F. californicum subsp. crassifolia occurs in Santa Cruz County.