Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Brickellia coulteri, Coulter's Brickellbush

Coulter's Brickellbush has small light yellowish-green and sometimes purple or brown tinged florets. These floral heads consist solely of discoid florets. This species blooms from March to November or September to May if winter rains are sufficient. Brickellia coulteri Coulter's Brickellbush is native perennial Brickellia that grows to 3 feet or more. It is a shrub or sub-shrub with multiple branches from the base. The branches are opposite, ascending or spreading. The glands dotted along the stems and flowering stalks make the plants sticky to touch. Brickellia coulteri Coulter's Brickellbush leaves are green, opposite, simple ovate to deltate and with short stems and the leaf margins have 1 to 3 sets of sharp teeth usually near the base. The leaf blades have 3-distinct nerve channels also from the base. Brickellia coulteri Coulter's Brickellbush floral heads are in loose panicles with hairy pubescent glandular flowering stalks. The fruits are yellow-brown t yellow-gray achene with a pappus of 28 to 40 bristles. Brickellia coulteriCoulter's Brickellbush is a perennial shrub/sub-shrub and a strictly southwestern species that is found mostly in AZ, NM, TX as well as northern Mexico and Baja California. Coulter’s Brickellia is a fragrant shrub and may be identified in part by its distinctive bracts or linear phyllaries tinged brownish, pink or purple. Brickellia coulteri

Scientific Name: Brickellia coulteri
Common Name: Coulter's Brickellbush

Also Called: Coulter Brickellbush

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Coleosanthus coulteri)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 1 to 3 feet (30-90 cm) or more 5 feet (150 cm).

Growth Form: Shrub, subshrub; several stems branching from base; plants ascending to spreading; covered with short, soft yellow or yellow-gray hairs (pubescent), often gland-dotted, somewhat sticky.

Leaves: Green; leaves arranged opposite along stems; leaves with short stems (petioles), leaf shape ovate to deltate; leaf edges or margins with 1 to 3 sets of sharp teeth, usually near the base.

Flower Color: Light yellowish/green, sometimes purple or brown tinged; heads in loose panicles; flowering stalks or peduncles covered with short, soft hairs (pubescent) and sometimes gland-dotted; disk florets only, 13 to 25; fruit is a yellow-brown to yellow-gray cypsela with a pappus of smooth to barbed (barbellulate) bristles.

Flowering Season: March, April or May and again September, October and November.

Elevation: 2,000 to 4,000 feet (600-1,200 m).

Habitat Preferences: Arid rocky slopes, hillsides, canyons.

Recorded Range: A strictly southwestern species that is found mostly in AZ, NM, TX as well as northern Mexico and Baja California. Brickellia coulteri is found primarily in Arizona and also in the southwest part of New Mexico and extreme west Texas.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Brickellia coulteri.

North America species range map for Brickellia coulteri:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Brickellia coulteri: Click image for full size map
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

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.

The genus Brickellia was published by Stephen Elliott in 1824.

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 15 species, Utah has 7 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Coulter’s Brickellia is a fragrant shrub and may be identified in part by its distinctive bracts or linear phyllaries tinged brownish, pink or purple. With 22 species of Brickellia in Arizona, it is often difficult to determine which species you are observing. As with many similar species the main differences are details of the flowers which vary greatly. Brickellia coulteri is common in our state and can be identified more readily than others.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see; California Brickellbush, Brickellia californica, Chihuahuan Brickellbush, Brickellia floribunda and Veiny Brickellbush, Brickellia venosa.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Tiny wind-borne seeds of Brickellia coulteri may possibly be eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Brickellia coulteri flowers may be visited by butterflies, bees and other small insects.

The genus Brickellia (Brickel'lia:) is name to honor Dr. John Brickell (1749-1809), an early naturalist and physician of Georgia who came to the United States in 1770 from Ireland. The genus Brickellia was named for him by Stephen Elliott (1771-1830), a professor of botany in Georgia. This Brickell is not to be confused with another John Brickell (1710?-1745) from Ireland who came to the United States around 1729, was coincidentally was also a naturalist and physician.

The genus Brickellia was published by Stephen Elliott in 1824.

The specific epithet coulteri is named to honor Dr. Thomas Coulter (1793-1843), an Irish physician, botanist and explorer. Dr. Coulter was one of the first botanists to collect plants and conduct botanical research in Arizona. He is well known for his travels and botanical research in Mexico and he was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where he founded the college's herbarium.


Date Profile Completed: 8/9/2014; updated 05/29/2020
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
Plants, USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 05/28/2020).
Randall W. Scott, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Brickellia; 9. Brickellia coulteri A. Gray, Smithsonian Contr. Knowl. 3(5): 86. 1852. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981; Editors; S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2015, A.Hazelton 2015; Brickellia coulteri; Field Guide on Seinet
Wikipedia contributors, 'Brickellia coulteri', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 02:43 UTC, [accessed 29 May 2020]
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 05/28/2020)
Virginia Tech Dendrology; Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation