Gutierrezia sarothrae, Broom Snakeweed
Scientific Name: Gutierrezia sarothrae
Common Name: Broom Snakeweed
Also Called: Broomsnakeweed, Broomweed, Perennial Snakeweed, Snakeweed, Stinkweed, Turpentine Weed and Yellow Top (Spanish: Yerba de La Vibora, Hierba de La Víbora)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Gutierrezia divaricata, Gutierrezia diversifolia, Gutierrezia lepidota, Gutierrezia linearifolia, Gutierrezia linearis, Gutierrezia linoides, Gutierrezia longipappa, Gutierrezia pomariensis, Gutierrezia sarothrae var. pomariensis, Gutierrezia tenuis, Solidago sarothrae, Xanthocephalum sarothrae, Xanthocephalum sarothrae var. pomariense, Xanthocephalum tenue)
Size: Up to 3 feet.
Growth Form: Shrub, subshrub; woody at the base, stems erect or sprawling, numerous slender green branching stems typically uniform in length; bush becoming rounded or mound-like; stems green or yellow when in bloom, becoming woody with age.
Leaves: Green; alternate, numerous; narrowly linear, margins smooth (entire); clustered leaves thread-like (filiform) or fascicled.
Flower Color: Bright golden yellow; abundant flowers in fall, flowers with sticky resin, flowers on terminal end of branches in clusters of 1 to 5; flower heads either without stalks (peduncles) or with short stalks; ray flowers have 2 to 8 florets, disk flowers have 2 to 9 florets; fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: July to November.
Elevation: 3,000 to 8,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Upper deserts, pinyon-juniper, grasslands and wooded areas, in dry, arid areas, rocky hillsides and slopes, disturbed and open areas, overgrazed lands, calcareous soils.
Recorded Range: Western United States and central Canada and northern Mexico. Throughout most of Arizona, absent in southwest corner.
U.S. Weed Information: Gutierrezia sarothrae is listed in: Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, and Weeds of the West. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: "Species" is listed by the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Federal and State Noxious Weed.
Wetland Indicator: No data available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.
Comments: Broom Snakeweed is a native plant considered a weed by several authorities including the livestock industry. It is considered an "aggressive and obnoxious weed" in An Illustrated Guide to Arizona Weeds. It is more prevalent in poorly managed rangelands and its presence is an indication of overgrazing.
Broom Snakeweed is however of value for wildlife, mostly small mammals and birds for food, shelter and protection. A close relative, Threadleaf Snakeweed, Gutierrezia microcephala, looks similar superficially and may be found together in preferred habitat types. A third species, Late Snakeweed, Gutierrezia serotina is a smaller plant and has other less noticeable key characteristics.
Several ethno-botanical uses have been identified Threadleaf Snakeweed. See species account from the on-line site Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.