Creosote Bush

Larrea tridentata

Larrea tridentata

Color: Yellow

Common name: Creosote Bush, Greasewood

Latin name: Larrea tridentata


Height: 3-10 feet

Larrea tridentata

Description: Creosote bush is an open, vase-shape shrub with solitary, small, numerous flowers on grayish stems/trunks.

Leaf: The leaf is a distinctive bifolate wing, tiny; usually yellow-green becoming darker and aromatic after rainfall.

Range: Desert, East of Sierra Nevada, (uncommon in Tehachapi Mountain Area, San Joaquin Valley, South Coast, San Jacinto Mountains)

Habitat: Common. Desert scrub

Elevation: < 1000 m.

Flowering time: Blooms mainly in spring, sporadically throughout the year.

Notes: Greasewood has a distinctive odor after rainfall, the characteristic southwest desert smell. It is not the source of commercial creosote. It is an excellent indicator plant (size indicates amount of water naturally present, or if stunted may indicate presence of caliche.) Even though the creosote bush is touted as a herbal remedy for many maladies, the FDA has issued warnings about the health hazards of ingesting creosote bush or using it as an internal medicine and discourages its use. Creosote bush is difficult to salvage from the wild, the root ball must be kept intact with best success after fall or winter rain. Clones may live 10,000 years, longer than any other living plants known.


  • Exposure: full sun, reflected heat
  • Water: natural rainfall; some supplemental while establishing
  • Soil: tolerant
  • Propagation: seed, difficult to transplant
  • Maintenance: minimal

Larrea tridentata

Read more about the Creosote Bush.

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