Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Ambrosia salsola, Cheesebush

Cheesebush has both male and female flowers on the same plants. The flowers are yellow or white both fading to white or a pearly white. Unlike other members of the genus, Cheesebush male and female flowers are found in the same clusters. Flowers in the photograph are primarily male flowers (white pearl buds belong to female flowers. Ambrosia salsola Cheesebush has yellow to white flowers, male and female on the same plants. The large whitish flower is a female. Note the small male flowers in stem axils directly behind the female flower. Ambrosia salsola Cheesebush or White Burrobush is so named because of the pearly white flowers which bloom in profusion in the months of March and April. There are 3 varieties of Ambrosia salsola.Cheesebush has interesting leaves, alternate along the stems with small rough hairs, threadlike or linear. Although placed in the Asteraceae family, plants in the genus Ambrosia bear little resemblance to most other members of the daisy family. Ambrosia salsola Cheesebush is a native perennial shrub with a sprawling habit and heavy branching that grows up to 5 feet or so and blooms in the spring. Cheesebush prefers sandy or gravelly desert washes below 3,500 feet where it is often a primarily species along with Singlewhorl Burrobrush, Ambrosia monogyra, which blooms in the fall. Ambrosia salsola

Scientific Name: Ambrosia salsola
Common Name: Cheesebush
Also Called: Burrobush, Burrobrush, Desert Pearl and White Burrobush, (Spanish: Jécota).
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Hymenoclea salsola)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size:Up to 5 feet
Growth Form: Shrub, subshrub; sprawling habit, heavy branching, throughout, branches are relatively thin.
Leaves: Green; alternate, small rough hairs (scabrous), threadlike (filiform) or linear.
Flower Color: Yellow or white; fade to white or pearly; both male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers in same cluster; flowers profusely in season; fruit winged around a fusiform bur; seed is an achene.
Flowering Season: March to April.
Elevation: Up to 4,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy or gravelly washes, rocky slopes and saline soils.

Recorded Range: A southwestern desert plant found in the United States in AZ, CA, NV and the southwest tip of UT and in Baja California and northwest Mexico. Found throughout much of Arizona, mostly absent in the northeast part of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Ambrosia salsola (as Hymenoclea salsola).

U.S. Weed Information: No data available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.
Wetland Indicator: No data available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

Genus Information: 25 species in Ambrosia throughout the United States and Canada. 15 species in Arizona which now includes members of the former genus Hymenoclea. Plants in the genus Ambrosia are referred to by the common name Ragweed. This species was formerly included in the genus Hymenoclea.

3 varieties of Ambrosia salsola:
Ambrosia salsola var. fasciculata, Burrobush (AZ, CA, NV, UT);
Ambrosia salsola var. pentalepis, Burrobush (AZ, CA, NV);
Ambrosia salsola var. salsola, Burrobush (AZ, CA).

Comments: Cheesebush is a spring bloomer found primarily in sandy or gravelly desert washes below 3,500 feet where it is often a primarily species. It is closely related to Singlewhorl Burrobrush Ambrosia monogyra which blooms in the fall. Pollen from both species causes hay fever in susceptible individuals.

Cheesebush, one of the common names is derived from its foliage which, when crushed has a decidedly cheesy scent. Cheesebush hybridizes with White Bursage Ambrosia dumosa.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora Canyon Ragweed, Ambrosia ambrosioides, Triangle-leaf Bursage, Ambrosia deltoidea, White Bursage Ambrosia dumosa Hollyleaf Bursage, Ambrosia eriocentra and Singlewhorl Burrobrush Ambrosia monogyra,

Although placed in the Asteraceae family, plants in the genus Ambrosia bear little resemblance to most other members of the daisy family.

Date Profile Completed: 6/16/2013; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 01/09/2017, updated format 10/08/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database; as Hymenoclea salsola
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles as Hymenoclea salsola.
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 06/16/2013)
John L. Strother, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Ambrosia salsola (Torrey & A. Gray) Strother & B. G. Baldwin, MadroƱo. 49: 143. 2002.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Wikipedia contributors. "Hymenoclea salsola." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Jun. 2013. Web. 16 Jun. 2013.
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,