Friday, December 3, 2021

Plant Profile: Encelia farinosa (Brittlebush)

Latin name:
Encelia farinosa("en-SEE-lee-ah far-in-OH-sah")
Common name: Brittlebush, Goldenhills, Incienso, White Brittlebush (Spanish: Rama Blanca, Incienso, Hierba del Bazo, Hierba [rama] del Bazo, Hierba de Las Animas, Palo Blanco, Hierba Ceniza)
Originally from: northern Mexico and the southwestern United States
Blooms: Yellow, fragrant 2" flowers from February to May and again from August to September.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough.
Height x width: 12"-36" tall and wide
Zones: 7-24
Where to find in P. Garden: Three have recently been planted in the brights bed.

This common desert shrub of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States is a new one for us. The common name "brittlebush" comes from the fact that the branches are brittle and woody, and contain a fragrant resin.. Another name for it in Spanish is incienso because the dried sap was burned by early Spanish missions in the New World as incense.  

It does well on dry, gravelly slopes and sandy washes, needing a very sunny position in very well-drained soil. Used for border, erosion control, and ground cover, Caltrans has begun to use it in hydroseeding  which has quite dramatically increased its spread.

This plant has big yellow flowers, rich in nectar and it's much appreciated by bees and butterflies, and leaves that are more or less silvery depending on rainfall.  

The hotter and drier the growing season, the smaller and whiter are the leaves produced, which helps the plant cope with water loss.  During dry seasons the plant goes drought deciduous, shedding all of its foliage, and relying on the water stored in its thick stems.

Cutting it back by half after flowering or in fall keep this little shrub looking bushy, and with a bit of luck it will find PG a great place to be.

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