Encelia farinosa, Brittlebush
Scientific Name: Encelia farinosa
Common Name: Brittlebush
Also Called: Goldenhills, Incienso, White Brittlebush (Spanish: Rama Blanca, Incienso, Hierba del Bazo, Hierba [rama] del Bazo, Hierba de Las Animas, Palo Blanco, Hierba Ceniza)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Encelia farinosa var. radians, Encelia farinosa var. phenicodonta)
Size: 1 to 3 feet or more tall and as wide.
Growth Form: Shrub or subshrub; rounded, multiple branching, brittle stems exude resin or gum, new stems tomentose, older stems with smooth bark.
Leaves: Whitish or silvery-gray, tomentose, shape variable, lanceolate to ovate, petioles, lower leaves deciduous.
Flower Color: Yellow, showy fragrant radiate heads up to 2 inches, flower head clusters on tips of stems extend well above the plant, ray flowers 10 to 20, disk flowers yellow, brown or purplish, long stem-like inflorescence with paniculiform or cymose arrays (most of branching occurs distally, peduncles, mostly glabrous, phyllaries lanceolate.
Flowering Season: February to May and again from August to September; or this species may bloom throughout the year following sufficient monsoon rainfall.
Elevation: Up to 3,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Lower deserts, often in association with Creosote Bush, dry rocky slopes and hillsides.
Recorded Range: Brittlebush is found in the southwestern United States, mostly in Arizona and California but also in Nevada and Utah and throughout Baja California and northwest Mexico. It has been introduced in Hawaii. In Arizona it is found primarily in the western ⅔ of the state and in Graham and Greenlee Counties to the east.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Encelia farinosa.
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
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Nevada and Utah each have 4 species of Encelia, California has 5 species, New Mexico has 2 species and Texas has 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
Comments: Brittlebush is one of the most common yellow flowered silvery-gray bushes in lower deserts. Brittlebush is aptly named as the branches are easily snapped off because of brittle stems. Brittlebush is known to hybridize with Geraea canescens.
In Southwest Desert Flora also see similar species: Button Brittlebush, Encelia frutescens, Virgin River Brittlebush, Encelia virginensis, Hairy Desertsunflower, Geraea canescens and Parish's Goldeneye, Bahiopsis parishii.
Native American Ethnobotany: Encelia farinosa has been used as a pain analgesic, food, candy, waterproofing and as a paint by southwestern American indigenous peoples.
See the full species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.