Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Baccharis sarothroides, Desertbroom

Desertbroom or Broom Baccharis is happy in lower deserts in gravel and sandy washes or along roadsides. Here it begins to disperse its feather white bristles floating through the air. This specimen was growing tall in a semi-riparian area. Baccharis sarothroides Desertbroom has creamy whitish flowers on solitary heads in dense arrays on terminal tips of branches. Baccharis sarothroides    Desertbroom is a fall bloomer that flowers from September to February and begins to spread its seeds in very early spring. Baccharis sarothroides The fruits of Desertbroom are small achenes that attach to long feathery white bristles which float through the air in very early spring. Baccharis sarothroides    Desertbroom is a native perennial shrub that may grow up to 12 feet in height at elevations between 1,000 to 5,500 feet. Baccharis sarothroides

Scientific Name: Baccharis sarothroides
Common Name: Desertbroom
Also Called: Broom Baccharis, Desert Broom and Rosin Bush (Spanish: Romerillo, Hierba del Pasmo, Escoba Amarga).
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: ( )
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 12 feet.
Growth Form: Shrub; multiple green stems; glabrous and resinous; becoming woody, multiple branches broom-like and spindly in appearance.
Leaves: Small bright green; alternate, deciduous, scale-like or linear, entire, sessile, sticky, some revolute, often leafless at flowering.
Flower Color: Cream; disk flowers only; flower heads solitary or in dense arrays on terminal tips of branches; fruit is an achene attached to long feathery white bristles floating through the air.
Flowering Season: September to February.
Elevation: 1,000 to 5,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Mostly lower deserts, gravel and sandy washes, roadsides, saline soil, flooded and disturbed areas.

Recorded Range: In southern southwest states of AZ, CA, AZ, NM, NV and TX, Baja California and northwest Mexico. Throughout most of Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Baccharis sarothroides.

U.S. Weed Information: No data available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Baccharis sarothroides has the following wetland designations: Arid West, FACU; Great Plains, FAC; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU.
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands

Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 24 species and 26 accepted taxa overall for Baccharis. World wide, The Plant List includes 430 accepted species names and includes a further 409 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and California each have 10 species of Baccharis, Nevada has 5 species, New Mexico has 13 species, Texas has 12 species, Utah has 5 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: As the vernacular name suggests Desertbroom, with its nearly leafless green stems, indeed has a broom like profile. The plant blooms profusely in the fall and at that time you might see the fine white feathery wind carried "parachutes" blowing freely in the air or covering the ground and the plant like a light snowfall dusting.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Yerba de Pasmo Baccharis pteronioides and Seep Willow, Baccharis salicifolia.

Baccharis sarothroides, Desertbroom has been used for several medicinal and other purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Diegueno Drug, Cough Medicine. Infusion of plant taken for stomachaches and coughs.
  • Papago Food, Beverage. Seeds steeped and used as tea-like drinks for refreshment.
  • Papago Other, Hunting & Fishing Item and War Arrows, Wood used to make stone-tipped hunting arrows and stone-tipped war arrows
  • Pima Fiber, Brushes & Brooms. Green stalks cut, tied together with strings and used as brooms.

  • See full species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 8/5/2012; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 11/16/2016, updated format 10/08/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/16/2016)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/16/2016).
    The Jepson Manual, Citation: Sun Aug 5 14:11:28 2012
    Scott D. Sundberg†, David J. Bogler, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae | Baccharis, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,