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Creosote Bush
Larrea tridentata
  
About Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) 18 Nurseries Carry This Plant Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) is a flowering plant in the family Zygophyllaceae. It is a prominent species in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts of western North America, including portions of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and western Texas in the United States, and northern Chihuahua in Mexico. In California, it is found from Inyo County southward, in desert areas only.

It is an evergreen shrub growing to 3 to 10 ft tall, rarely to 13 ft. The stems of the plant bear resinous, dark green leaves with two leaflets joined at the base, each leaflet 7-18 millimeter long and 4-8.5 millimeter broad.

The yellow flowers are up to 21 in. in diameter, with five yellow petals. The plant is extraordinarily tolerant of drought, saline or alkaline soils, and adapted to desert conditions. It reproduces by seed and also by sending up new shoots from the roots. The latter results in the creation of clonal rings, some of which are among the oldest known plants at around 11,000 years old. Galls may form by the activity of the creosote gall midge. The whole plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote (especially when wet), from which the common name derives. Indigenous Peoples use the plant for medicinal purposes.

To show off this plant's dramatic shapes, place it in front of a wall or other simple background. Creosote Bush works particularly well in a naturalistic landscape.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Shrub

Size
Size
3.3 - 12 ft tall
6 - 12 ft wide

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Moderate, Slow

Dormancy
Dormancy
Evergreen

Fragrance
Fragrance
Fragrant - Pleasant

Flower Color
Flower Color
Yellow

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Spring

Wildlife Supported
 
Numerous insects are attracted to the flowers. Various birds are attracted to the seeds.

 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 1 confirmed , 2 likely * ) SHOW ALL
Thyridopteryx meadii Image
Thyridopteryx meadiiThyridopteryx meadii
*
Stenoporpia pulchella Image
Stenoporpia pulchellaStenoporpia pulchella

Landscaping Information
Sun
Sun
Full Sun

Moisture
Moisture
Low, Very Low

Summer Irrigation
Summer Irrigation
Max 1x / month once established

Nurseries
Nurseries

Ease of Care
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Cold Tolerance
Cold Tolerance
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Soil Drainage
Soil Drainage
Fast

Soil Description
Soil Description
Almost always found in rocky, sandy or gravelly soil. Tolerates Saline Soil,Tolerates Sodic Soil. Soil PH: 6.5 - 8.5

Common uses
Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bee Gardens

Maintenance
Maintenance
Prune to shape in late fall or early winter

Propagation
Propagation?
For propagating by seed: Soak, preferably in distilled water, overnight; germinate in dark under hot bed conditions (optimum temperature 73°F constant). Germination percentage may be low. Germinating seedlings intolerant of water stress [Barbour 1968; Mabry et al. 1977).

Sunset Zones
Sunset Zones?
7, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 14*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Mountains, valleys, and washes of the southern California deserts

Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 1.9" - 29.7", Summer Precipitation: 0.12" - 2.93", Coldest Month: 33.2" - 63.3", Hottest Month: 61.5" - 90.9", Humidity: 1.66" - 49.31", Elevation: -214" - 7070"


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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