Coyote ceanothus

A herculean effort by Valley Water to protect an endangered plant species

Coyote ceanothus is no ordinary plant. It is a white-flowered shrub endemic to Santa Clara County, meaning it grows nowhere else in the world. This federally listed endangered species is only found in three locations within the county because it can only grow on a particularly rocky, nutrient-poor soil called serpentine soil made from serpentine rock, California’s State Rock. The largest population of Coyote ceanothus is located at Anderson Dam.

The Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project is vital to public safety and Santa Clara County’s water supply. Up to 3,650 Coyote ceanothus plants located right where work is set to begin will need to be removed during construction associated with the new dam and spillway. To minimize the loss, Valley Water is planting a new crop of Coyote ceanothus on a Valley Water-owned property called the Coyote Ridge Preserve. We’ve already planted over 1,000 plants since 2014.

To further preserve and protect this rare species, Valley Water gave $8 million to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (Habitat Agency) to purchase the Baird property, located in unincorporated Santa Clara County and next to the City of Morgan Hill. The land has an existing Coyote ceanothus population there. The Baird property also provides critical habitat for many other animal and plant species, including the federally threatened Bay checkerspot butterfly.  The Habitat Agency will manage the preservation efforts, so the Coyote ceanothus and other species continue to thrive.

With the work being done at the Baird property and the Coyote Ridge Preserve, Valley Water will help:

  • Preserve local ecosystems
  • Animals and plants have more room to migrate from one suitable habitat area to another
  • Connect different populations of plants and animals
  • Protect the endangered Coyote ceanothus and other rare species

This is just another example of how Valley Water is leading the charge to preserve and protect our environment.


  1. Is there a possibility of being able to get any of the Coyote Ceonothus plants that will be removed for my garden?


    1. Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Federally endangered species have very specific requirements and they require permits to move or harvest the plants. They are also much more sensitive to their environment. We don’t recommend salvage and transplantation due to the high risk of failure of the re-plantings, and the possibility of spreading pathogens or other contamination in soil. We appreciate your interest.


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