FloraFinder.org
Home   About Us   Want to Help?   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Biblio

Larrea tridentata (DC.) Coville

 

Creosote bush, chaparral

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilyZygophyllaceaeThe caltrop family, with about 250 species
GenusLarreaAfter Bishop Juan Antonio Hernéndez Perez de Larrea (1731-1803), a Spanish clergyman at Valladolid and patron of the sciences. Shortly before his death he was appointed as Bishop of Valladolid
SpeciestridentataThree-toothed

About plant names...

Creosote bush is an abundant native of arid parts of North America. These long-lived plants gradually spread out, with central portions dying and outlying portions eventually separating, forming clonal colonies. Taken together, these colonies are extremely long-lived. At 11,700 years old, the “King Clone” creosote colony is the oldest living organism on Earth.

Creosote was once harvested for its resin, which was used to create the original version of pressure treated lumber. Railroad ties and telephone poles immersed in boiling creostoe resin resist termiates, fungi, mites, and similar causes of wood rot.

Plants: Plants form irregular bushes up to 10' (3 m) high, but usually closer to half that; the size is proportional to the amount of available water. Plants give off a charac­teristic odor when wet or broken. Extremely deep root systems allow them to thrive in the arid environment.

Leaves: Leaves are yellow-green or dark green, resinous, and shiny, each consisting of two teardrop-shaped leaflets ½" (1.3 cm) long and ¼" (6.3 mm) wide. The two-leaflet leaves grow in opposite pairs, so it looks as if there are four tiny leaves at each node along the branch. Leaves are lanceolate.

Flowers: Yellow flowers are ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) around, with five twisted petals.

Fruits: Seed pods are oval, surrounded by a silvery white fuzz, about ¼" (6.3 mm), comprised of five connected, one-seeded carpels which may come apart at maturity. They resemble pussy willows.

Edibility: Creosote is not edible. The creosote gall midge, a member of a set of closely related flies in the Asphondylia auripila group, produces variously shaped galls on creosote bushes. At least some of the galls produced by this and related flies are said to have produced a pleasurable experience when pulverized and smoked, originally by the Seri people.

Medical: Indigenous peoples relied on creosote as a sort of cure-all, using it for colds, stomach discomfort, as a pain killer, diuretic, anti-diarrheal, and for treatment of arthrtis, anemia, and sinusitis. I cannot find any support for these uses, however, and creosote is not even listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, a publication that descibes a wide range of real and purported herbal cures. This may be due to lack of study or lack of efficacy. Creosote is, however, antimicrobial, hence useful for treatment of cuts and bacterial or (possibly) fungal infections.

Online References:

Larrea tridentata at the Mindbird Maps and Books unofficial Mojave National Preserve site

Larrea tridentata at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Larrea tridentata on Wikipedia

Larrea tridentata on cals.arizona.edu

Larrea tridentata on Wikimedia Commons

Larrea tridentata at the United States National Parks Service

Larrea tridentata at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Larrea tridentata on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Larrea tridentata on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/29/2018 · Red Spring Calico Basin, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 6 × 4" (14 × 10.0 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelso Dunes, Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

5/3/2018 · Park Blvd, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelso Dunes, Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 4 × 7" (11 × 16 cm)

Larrea tridentata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelso Dunes, Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

The small brown spiky growth toward the right is a gall created by a Asphondylia auripila fly. · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

5/3/2018 · Park Blvd, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

5/24/2009 · Saguaro National Park, AZ
≈ 2½ × 1¾" (7 × 4.7 cm) ID is uncertain

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 7 × 4" (16 × 11 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/29/2018 · Red Spring Calico Basin, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 7 × 4" (16 × 11 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/30/2018 · Kelso Dunes, Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 5 × 3" (12 × 8.4 cm)

Larrea tridentata (creosote bush, chaparral)

4/28/2018 · Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV

Range:

About this map...