Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Ericameria linearifolia, Narrowleaf Goldenbush

Narrowleaf Goldenbush is one of the showiest members of the genus Ericameria with bright yellow flowers blooming from March to May or June. Ericameria linearifolia Narrowleaf Goldenbush; Note bracts (phyllaries) surrounding flower hear, green to tan, ovate to lanceolate in sub-equal parts. They may be smooth or sparsely hairy. Ericameria linearifolia Narrowleaf Goldenbush; Branches are erect to spreading and new stems are green, smooth or covered with minute soft erect hairs. Leaves are linear, green, up to 2 inches long with a smooth leaf surface or sparsely hairy. Ericameria linearifolia Narrowleaf Goldenbush is a perennial shrubby plant that grows up to 4 or 5 feet tall, but usually much shorter. Plants are found in AZ, CA, NV, UT at elevations up to 6,000 feet or so; habitat preferences include rocky and sandy soils, dry slopes, saltbush and creosote-bush communities. Ericameria linearifolia

Scientific Name: Ericameria linearifolia
Common Name: Narrowleaf Goldenbush

Also Called: Interior Goldenbush, Mojave Goldenbush, Narrow-Leaf Heath-Goldenrod, Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Narrowleaf Goldenweed, Slimleaf Goldenbush, Turpentine Bush

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Aplopappus linearifolius, Aplopappus interior, Aplopappus linearifolius var. interior, Aster linearifolius, Chrysothamnus nauseosus var. linearifolius, Haplopappus linearifolius, Haplopappus linearifolius subsp. interior, Haplopappus linearifolius var. interior, Stenotopsis interior, Stenotopsis linearifolia, Stenotopsis linearifolia var. interior)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 1½ to 5 feet tall, (45-150 cm)

Growth Form: Shrub or subshrub; plant profile broom-like; plant stems erect to spreading; new stems green; smooth (glabrous) or with small soft hairs (puberulous); plants gland-dotted and sticky (resinous).

Leaves: Green; up to 2 inches (5 cm) long; fleshy looking; blades ascending, linear, filiform or narrowly oblanceolate; leaf surfaces glabrous to sparsely hairy; leaves glandulargland-dotted, sticky and resinous.

Flower Color: Yellow, bright yellow; solitary flower heads on the tips of long unbranched stems; flower heads with both ray (3 to 18) and disk (16 to 60) florets; bracts surrounding flower heads are linear to lanceolate; the fruit is cypsela with a silky-hairy pappus.

Flowering Season: March through June and again August to October or November

Elevation: 3,000 to 6,500 feet (1,000-2,000 m)

Habitat Preferences: Rocky mountainous areas, desert mountains on slopes, mesas dry creek beds, canyons, rock walls, saltbush and creosote-bush communities.

Recorded Range: Narrowleaf Goldenbush is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NV, UT. Largest populations in California; in the southeast corner of Nevada; in Arizona in the central and northwestern parts of the state and in Utah it is limited to the extreme southwestern corner.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Ericameria linearifolia.

North America species range map for Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Ericameria linearifolia:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Ericameria linearifolia: 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 33 species and 33 accepted taxa overall for Ericameria. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 39 accepted species names and a further 244 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

As a whole, the members of the genus Ericameria are generally referred to as Goldenbush, Turpentine Bush, Rabbitbrush and Rabbitbush. They were all formerly described as Aplopappus, Haplopappus or Chrysothamnus.

The genus Ericameria was published in 1840 by Thomas Nuttall.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 9 species of Ericameria, California has 22 species, Nevada has 15 species, New Mexico has 4 species, Texas has 2 species, Utah has 13 species. Hybrids exist. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: One of the more common plants found in Arizona above 3,000 feet (1,000 m) that blooms showy bright yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. It is one of the showiest species to bloom in the fall and one of the showiest species in Ericameria. It grows well in arid environments and dry alkaline soil and is often used in desert landscaping in full sun to achieve a more natural look. The leaves are aromatic.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Turpentine Bush, Ericameria laricifolia and Rubber Rabbitbush, Ericameria nauseosa.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
The genus Ericameria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly species including those from the genus Schinia. Also, plants are browsed by rabbits. Seeds of Ericamerica linearifolia are eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native bees, Butterflies and Insects
Ericamerica linearifolia flowers and plants may be visited by native bees, butterflies and/or insects in search of food, nectar or cover.

The genus Ericameria (Ericamer'ia:) is from the Greek Erica (Ereika), “heath,” and meris or meros for “division or part,” referring to the heath-like leaves.

The genus Ericameria was published in 1840 by Thomas Nuttall.

The species epithet linearifolia (linearifo'lia:) means plants with narrow linear parallel-sided leaves.

Narrowleaf Goldenbush has been used as a drug, dermatological and veterinary aid by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Antirheumatic (External) and Dermatological Aid; Decoction of leaves and flowers applied to limbs for rheumatism and Decoction of leaves and flowers applied to soreness, bruises and cuts and Decoction of roots used as a hair wash to make the hair grow.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Orthopedic and Veterinary Aid; Decoction of roots used as a wash for tired feet and Decoction of leaves and flowers applied to sore backs of horses.
  • Tubatulabal Drug, Antirheumatic (External); Compound decoction of leaves and flowers used as a wash for rheumatism.

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

    Date Profile Completed: 05/23/2017; updated 07/15/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, Aplopappus linearifolius var. interior.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 07/13/2020)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/13/2020).
    Lowell E. Urbatsch 2012, Ericameria linearifolia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=2598, accessed on July 14, 2020.
    Lowell E. Urbatsch, Loran C. Anderson, Roland P. Roberts, Kurt M. Neubig, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae | Ericameria; 18. Ericameria linearifolia (de Candolle) Urbatsch & Wussow, Brittonia. 31: 273. 1979.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    FNA 2006, Kearny and Peebles 1979; Editor; A.Hazelton 2015 from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 07/15/2020).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet accessed on July 14, 2020; Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Ericameria linearifolia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 05:48 UTC, [accessed 14 July 2020]
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Ericameria', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 June 2018, 21:21 UTC, [accessed 15 July 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 07/14/2020)