Cheesebush, Burrobrush

Hymenoclea salsola

Hymenoclea salsola

Color: White to yellow

Common name: Cheesebush, Burrobrush

Latin name: Hymenoclea salsola

Family: ASTERACEAE

Height: < 6.5 feet

Description: Hymenoclea salsola is considered a subshrub < 2 m, branched throughout with pale straw-coloured stems. The foliage has a pungent cheeselike scent when crushed, a trait which gives the plant the common name "cheesebush". It is covered in plentiful white or yellow flowers and then pearly, winged fruits in white, yellow, or pink.

Stems: The stems are pale straw-colored.

Leaf: The leaves are narrow and needlelike.

Range: Desert, s San Joaquin Valley, s Inner South Coast Ranges, Southwestern California, East of Sierra Nevada

Habitat: Dry flats, washes, fans

Elevation: < 1800 m.

Flowering time: Spring

Notes: A powder made from the dry roots was used to treat wounds by Native Americans. The seeds can be toasted or eaten raw. The Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico, use white burrobrush twigs and stems in several remedies. The twigs or leaves are mixed with all-thorn (Koeberlinia spinosa) twigs, boiled, and the tea taken to treat skin rashes. Seri also drank the tea to relieve pain in the lungs and trachea, and to reduce swelling. Additionally, they use white burrobrush as a remedy for rheumatism. Hymenoclea salsola, a dicot, is a shrub that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. This photo was taken on April 24, 2004 in the Providence Mountains, Eastern Mojave Desert, San Bernardino County, California. This species easily hybridizes with the common ragweed species Ambrosia dumosa.

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