Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Isocoma acradenia, Alkali Goldenbush

Alkali Goldenbush has yellow or golden yellow flowers of 4 or 5 flower heads.  Isocoma acradenia Alkali Goldenbush flowers consist of disk florets only. Isocoma acradenia Alkali Goldenbush fruit is called a cypsela. Isocoma acradenia Alkali Goldenbush leaves are green to light gray green; older leaves become light gray or tan. Isocoma acradenia Alkali Goldenbush prefers elevations up to 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and various habitats, lower and upper deserts, Creosote Bush communities, saline or alkaline and gypsum soils, sandy, gravelly areas.  Isocoma acradenia

Scientific Name: Isocoma acradenia
Common Name: Alkali Goldenbush

Also called: Alkali Jimmyweed, Desert Isocoma

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Haplopappus acradenius, Aplopappus acradenius)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 4 feet (1.3 m) 40 inches (1 m)

Growth Form: Shrub or subshrub; rounded, bushy, plants upright or erect, multiple upright shiny stems; minute short hairs; plants sticky from resin; older stems becoming yellowish-tan or yellowish-gray.

Leaves: Green to light greenish-gray; older leaves becoming light gray or tan; leaves arranged alternately along stem; leaves simple, mostly narrowly linear; leaves with small glands.

Flower Color: Yellow; clusters of 4 or 5 flower heads; floral heads with disk florets only; fruit is a cypsela with coarse permanent pappus

Flowering Season: June through October or much of the year with good summer and winter rainfall.

Elevation: Up to 4,000 feet (1,219 m)

Habitat Preferences: Various habitats, lower and upper deserts, Creosote Bush communities, saline or alkaline and gypsum soils, sandy, gravelly areas.

Recorded Range: In the United States Isocoma acradenia is found only in AZ, CA, NV and UT; mostly in AZ, CA and NV. It is also Native to northwest Mexico and Baja California.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Isocoma acradenia.

North America species range map for Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

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

Wetland Indicator: In North America Isocoma acradenia has the following wetland designations:

  • Arid West, FACU
  • Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU;

  • FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands

    Genus Information: In North America there are 11 species and 11 accepted taxa overall for Isocoma. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 15 accepted species names and a further 44 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Isocoma.

    The genus Isocoma was published by Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859), in 1840.

    In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 5 species of Isocoma, California, Utah and Texas each have 3 species, Nevada has 1 species and New Mexico has 4 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.

    There are 3 varieties in Isocoma acradenia;
    Isocoma acradenia var. acradenia, Alkali Goldenbush (AZ, CA, NV)
    Isocoma acradenia var. bracteosa, Alkali Goldenbush (CA)
    Isocoma acradenia var. eremophila, Alkali Goldenbush (AZ, CA, NV, UT)

    Comments: Alkali Goldenbush, a Mojave Desert species, is common throughout its range. It is one of several yellow fall blooming subshrubs in the state. Formerly included in the large genus Haplopappus, Alkali Goldenbush was moved to the genus Isocoma along with several other genera.

    It is similar in appearance to the closely related Burroweed, Isocoma tenuisecta which has deeply divided ( pinnately) leaves.

    In Southwest Desert Flora, also see Burroweed, Isocoma tenuisecta, Southern Goldenbush, Isocoma pluriflora and Rusby's Goldenbush, Isocoma rusbyi.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia, flowers, seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents in search of food, nectar, shelter and protection through cover.

    Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
    Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia, brightly colored flowers and plants are visited by butterflies, moths and other insects in search of food, nectar or shelter.

    The genus “Isocoma” (Isoco'ma:) is from the Greek meaning “an equal hair-tuft,” and referring to the flowers.

    The genus Isocoma was published by Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859), in 1840.

    The species epithet acradenia (acrade'nia:) from the Greek for “pointed-glanded,” each of the involucre bracts having a large gland at its tip.

    Southern California Ethno-Herbalist
    Ethno-Herbalist: Southern California Ethnobotany; Ethnobotany of Southern California Native Plants: Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia; for complete information click here.


    Date Profile Completed: 8/4/2012; updated 08/24/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Aplopappus acradenius.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 08/24/2020)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/24/2020).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 08/24/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Michael J. Plagens; Arizonensis; Field Guide; Sonoran Desert Flora; Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia (accessed 08/24/2020).
    The Jepson Manual, David J. Keil 2012, Isocoma acradenia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=3630, accessed on August 24, 2020.
    Guy L. Nesom, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae, Isocoma, 1. Isocoma acradenia (Greene) Greene, Erythea. 2: 111. 1894. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.; 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Isocoma acradenia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 January 2020, 06:26 UTC, [accessed 24 August 2020]
    FNA 2006, Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2015; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 08/24/2020)
    Plagens, Michael J., Arizonensis On-line Naturalist; Alkali Goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia (accessed 08/20/2020).
    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 08/24/2020)