|Ericameria nauseosa in Oregon|
Ericameria nauseosa (formerly Chrysothamnus nauseosus), commonly known as Chamisa, rubber rabbitbrush, and gray rabbitbrush, is a shrub of the genus Ericameria that grows in the arid regions of western North America. Two subspecies have been described, nauseosa (the gray form with 14 varieties) and consimilis (the green form with 8 varieties).
Rubber rabbitbrush was moved from the genus Chrysothamnus to the genus Ericameria in a 1993 paper. The findings of a 2003 phylogenetic investigation of Ericameria were consistent with the move of the rubber rabbitbrush from Chrysothamnus to Ericameria. The second edition of the Jepson plant manual and the USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network have adopted the name Ericameria nauseosa.
It blooms from September to October. It produces pungent-smelling, golden-yellow flowers. Flower heads are made up of 5 small, yellow, tubular disk flowers flowers, and occur in umbrella-shaped terminal clusters.
Stems and Leaves
Leaves, depending on the subspecies, are long and narrow to spatula-shaped. Both the flexible (rubbery) stems and the leaves are greenish-gray with a soft felt-like covering.
Rabbitbrush, Ericameria nauseosa, has gained popularity as an ornamental xeriscaping shrub in areas where water conservation is important. It thrives in a wide range of coarse, alkaline soils that are common to desert environments. Pruning the shrub back to several inches in early spring, before new growth begins, may help improve the shrub's ornamental value.
Along with associated species, like big sage and western wheat grass, rubber rabbitbrush is a significant source of food for browsing wildlife on winter ranges. Dense stands of this species often grow on poorly managed rangelands, in disturbed areas along roadways and on abandoned agricultural property.
Possible commercial uses
Rubber rabbitbrush was considered as a source of rubber as early as 1904. Several studies have been conducted on the possible use of rubber rabbitbrush as a source of rubber including ones during World Wars I and II, and 1987. Currently the University of Nevada is conducting research on possible of uses of rubber rabbitbrush for biomaterial and bioenergy uses. One possible commercial use of rubber rabbitbrush would be as a source for hypoallergenic rubber for use in products designed for people with latex allergies.
Specimens growing in Bayo Canyon, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, exhibit a concentration of radioactive strontium-90 300,000 times higher than a normal plant. Their roots reach into a closed nuclear waste treatment area, mistaking strontium for calcium due to its similar chemical properties. The radioactive shrubs are "indistinguishable from other shrubs without a Geiger counter."
Rabbitbrush native to the area near the post office in Crestone, Colorado
- Completion of Ericameria (Asteraceae: Astereae): diminution of Chrysothamnus 1993 Phytologia 75: 74-93, G. L. Nesom, G.I. Baird.
- Molecular phylogeny of Ericameria (Asteraceae, Astereae) based on nuclear ribosomal 3' ETS and ITS sequence data TAXON 52 · May 2003: 209-228,Roland P. Roberts, Lowell E. Urbatsch
- "The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California (2nd Edition), Ericameria nauseosa". University of California, Berkeley. 2010-10-21.
- "The USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network". US Government. 2010-10-21.
- Mojave Desert Wildflowers, Pam MacKay, 2nd Ed. p 198
- Malaby, Sarah. "Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa (Pall. ex Pursh) G.L. Nesom & Baird)". US Forest Service. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Wendy Mee et al. Waterwise, Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes. Utah State University Press, 2003.
- Utah State University Extension.
- Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30, p.80
- Stevenson p.81
- Hall, Harvey (2010-11-06). A rubber plant survey of western North America, Volume 7, page 186. University of California.
- Resin and Rubber Content in Chrysothmnus 1987 Dale Hegerhorst, Darrell W. Weber E. Durant McArthur The Southwestern Naturalist 32(4):475-482
- "Rabbit Brush: A New High Value Rubber Crop for Nevada". United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-11-06.
- "Nevada Dividends Impact Report Rabbit Brush Potential for Domestic Rubber Production". University of Nevada, Reno. 2010-11-06.
- Masco, Joseph. The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton University Press, 2006.
- USDA Profile: Ericameria nauseosa
- Jepson Manual - Ericameria nauseosa
- Ericameria nauseosa Calflora Photo Gallery
- Ericameria nauseosa Oregon Flora Image Project
Media related to Ericameria nauseosa at Wikimedia Commons
Data related to Ericameria nauseosa at Wikispecies