Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Encelia virginensis, Virgin River Brittlebush

Virgin River Brittlebush is a native perennial that closely resembles both Brittlebush and Button Brittlebush. Encelia virginensis Virgin River Brittlebush has yellow flowers, both ray and disk florets. Note here that the phyllaries subtending the flower are narrowly ovate to deltate. Encelia virginensis Virgin River Brittlebush has solitary flowers on the top of long slender stems, a major difference from the flowers on Brittlebush which are branched (similar to a panicle or cyme). Encelia virginensis Virgin River Brittlebush is a shrub or subshrub with slender branches form the base; the flowers bloom in Arizona from January through September and from March to April or June and again in December in California. Encelia virginensis Virgin River Brittlebush grows in elevations up to 4,000 feet and prefers desert flats, rocky slopes, mesas and roadsides. Encelia virginensis

Scientific Name: Encelia virginensis
Common Name: Virgin River Brittlebush
Also Called:
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Encelia frutescens var. virginensis, Encelia virginensis var. virginensis)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 4 feet or more.
Growth Form: Shrub or subshrub; slender branches from base; stems are proximally branched; new stems with pubescence, older stems with fissured bark.
Leaves: Green, gray-green; scattered along slender stem; leaves sparsely strigose and with soft canescence; leaves narrowly ovate to deltate.
Flower Color: Yellow; flower heads solitary; radiate, ray flowers 11 to 21; flower stems (peduncles) canescent; phyllaries narrowly ovate; fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: January to September in Arizona; March or April to June and again in December in California.
Elevation: Up to 4,000 feet in Arizona; 1,500 to 4,500 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Desert flats, rocky slopes, mesas and roadsides.

Recorded Range: In the United States Virgin River Brittlebush is found in AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT. In Arizona it occurs in the northwestern, central and south, southeastern parts of the state. It is also found in southern Baja California.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Encelia virginensis.

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

Genus Information: In North America there are 8 species of Encelia. World wide, The Plant List includes 20 accepted species names and includes a further 29 infraspecific rank for the genus.

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: Encelia virginensis is very similar to both Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa and Button Brittlebush, Encelia frutescens.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see similar species: Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa, Button Brittlebush, Encelia frutescens, Hairy Desertsunflower, Geraea canescens and Parish's Goldeneye, Bahiopsis parishii.

Date Profile Completed: 04/03/2017, updated format 10/10/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California; as Encelia frutescens var. virginensis.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database (accessed 03/25/2017).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 03/25/2017).
David J. Keil & Curtis Clark 2017. Encelia virginensis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 03, 2017.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 04/03/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 04/03/2017).