Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Brickellia californica, California Brickellbush

California Brickellbush has pale yellow-green with white to pink disk flowers. This species blooms from July to November or December across its wide geographic range. Brickellia californica California Brickellbush has 8 to 12 or rarely 18 disk florets in cylindrical flower heads in leafy small clusters on tips of slim branches, collectively in the shape of a panicle. Brickellia californica California Brickellbush has green alternate leaves with scalloped margins. Plants grow in elevations from 3,000 to 7,500 feet and a various habitats; dry rocky hillsides, canyons, dry creeks, streambeds, sea bluffs; upper deserts, chaparral, pinyon-juniper and pine forests. Brickellia californica

Scientific Name: Brickellia californica
Common Name: California Brickellbush
Also Called: Brickell-bush, Jepson's Brickellbush, False Boneset, Pachaba (Spanish: Hierba (Yerba) de la Vaca, Prodigiosa)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Bulbostylis californica, Brickellia californica var. californica, Brickellia californica var. jepsonii)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: 2 feet or more (6').
Growth Form: Shrub or subshrub; erect, thickly branched from base; glandular-pubescent.
Leaves: Green; alternate or proximal opposite; ovate to deltate; margins crenate to serrate, leaf bases cordate to truncate; leaf surfaces puberulent to becoming glabrous; often gland-dotted; leaves with 3 noticeable veins; short petioles.
Flower Color: Pale yellow-green with white to pink; disk flowers only, 8 to 12 (18) florets; cylindrical flower heads in leafy small clusters on tips of slim branches, collectively in the shape of a panicle; peduncles up to almost 2 inches; glandular-pubescent; involucre cylindric to obconic; phyllaries purplish-green, 3 to 4 striate; ovate to lance-ovate; fruit a puberulent achene with fine white pappus bristles.
Flowering Season: July to November or December.
Elevation: 3,000 to 7,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Various habitats, dry rocky hillsides, canyons, dry creeks, streambeds, sea bluffs; upper deserts, chaparral, pinyon-juniper and pine forest.

Recorded Range: Brickellia california is native to the southwest and northwestern United States in AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, WA. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico. It is common throughout its large geographic range.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Brickellia californica.

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

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

Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 36 species and 36 accepted taxa overall for Brickellia. World wide, The Plant List includes 112 accepted species names and includes a further 136 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 22 species of Brickellia, California has 13 species, Nevada has 12 species, New Mexico has 19 species, Texas has 16 species, Utah has 7 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 2 varieties in Brickellia californica:
Brickellia californica var. californica, California Brickellbush; (AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, WA);
Brickellia californica var. jepsonii, Jepson's Brickellbush; (California).

Comments: California Brickellbush is a common species throughout its large geographic range. It is pleasantly fragrant and commercially cultivated and used in California as a landscape species for native plants. According to Arizona Flora "It is called Pachaba by the Hopi Indians who are reported to rub it on the head for headache". See full Ethnobotany below.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see; Coulter's Brickellbush, Brickellia coulteri, Chihuahuan Brickellbush, Brickellia floribunda and Veiny Brickellbush, Brickellia venosa.

The genus Brickellia is named in honor of John Brickell (1748–1809), Irish-born physician and naturalist from Savannah Georgia. The genus was named in honor of John Brickell by American botanist Stephen Elliott in one of his most important works; A Sketch of the Botany of South-Carolina and Georgia. There is little other recorded information about Dr. John Brickell. Confusion is possible as another "John Brickell" (1791-1844), also a naturalist and also from Ireland is the author of a thoroughly plagiarized 1729 publication, The Natural History of North-Carolina.
The species epithet californica is used because the plant is of or from the state of California.
California Brickellbush has been used as a lotion on infant sores caused by prenatal infection by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Diegueno Drug, Febrifuge; Infusion of leaves taken for fevers.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Ceremonial Medicine; Plant used as a ceremonial emetic following clan incest.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Dermatological Aid; Plant used as a lotion on infant sores caused by prenatal infection.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Cough Medicine; Cold infusion of leaves taken and used as lotion for cough or fever.
  • Sanel Food, Substitution Food; Leaves used as a substitute for tea.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 07/12/2012, rev. 08/14/2012; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 09/12/2017, updated format 10/10/2017
    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 09/11/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/11/2017).
    Randall W. Scott, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Brickellia; 6. Brickellia californica (Torrey & A. Gray) A. Gray, Mem. Amer. Acad. Arts, n. s. 4: 64. 1849. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Randall W. Scott 2017. Brickellia californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 11, 2017.
    S. Buckley 2010, F. S. Coburn 2015, A. Hazelton 2015; FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973, Carter 2012; Brickellia californica; Field Guide on Seinet (accessed 09/11/2017)
    Al Schneider, Wildflowers, Ferns, & Trees of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, & Utah; Biographies of scientists and explorers honored. (accessed 09/11/2017).
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Brickellia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 May 2017, 14:44 UTC,> [accessed 11 September 2017 ]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 09/11/2017).