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Encelia farinosa

About Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) Brittlebush grows to 1 meter tall, with fragrant leaves 3-8 centimeters long. It can be found in a variety of desert habitats from dry gravelly slopes to open sandy washes up to 1000 meters. It does well in cultivation and recently has spread dramatically in areas not natural to its distribution in large part because Caltrans has begun to use it in hydroseeding. (The range map on this page only shows what we believe to be natural occurrences of this plant). Has green-white grayish leaves and becomes covered with yellow daisy flowers. The flowers will attract butterflies and birds eat the seeds. The common name Incienso refers to the aromatic, resinous sap which has been used as an incense substitute in Mexico.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 5 ft (0.3 - 1.5 m)

Max. Width
4 ft (1.2 m)

Rounded, Mounding


Growth Rate

Summer Semi-Deciduous

In unirrigated desert conditions leaves will vary with the seasons. Winter/Spring leaves are large, greener and more succulent. Summer/Fall leaves are smaller, more grey/green and thin. Under drought/heat stress it will drop all leaves but can recover.

Flower Color
Yellow, White, Green

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Native to the Colorado and Mojave Deserts, it is found in very arid slopes, canyons, washes and alluvial fans in fast draining sandy, gravelly soil, often among boulders but also in pure sand


Elevation ?
-224' - 6450'

Annual Precip. ?
2.2" - 30.0"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 2.85"

Coldest Month ?
36.3° F - 64.2° F

Hottest Month ?
62.9° F - 90.7° F

Humidity ?
1.25 vpd - 48.98 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers sandy or decomposed granite soil

Soil Texture

Soil PH
7.0 - 9.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 14*, 15, 16, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Creosote Bush, Ocotillo, Jojoba, Blue Paloverde, White Bursage, Chuparosa, Barrel Cactus, Desert Lavender, Indigo Bush, Apricot Mallow, Opuntia spp, numerous annual wildflowers

Wildlife Attracted
Many desert birds, small mammals and insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist


May be deadheaded to increase flowering, or may be pruned as desired in Summer or Fall

Propagation ?
Propagates readily from seed

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Goldenhills, Incienso

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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