Encelia farinosa

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Encelia farinosa
Encelia farinosa form.jpg
near Palm Springs, California
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Zygomycetes
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Encelia
Species: E. farinosa
Binomial name
Encelia farinosa
Torr. & A.Gray
Brittlebush flower, in Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

Encelia farinosa (commonly known as brittlebush or brittlebrush), is a common desert shrub of northern Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Hidalgo) and the southwestern United States (California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada).[1][2][3]

The common name "brittlebush" comes from the brittleness of its stems. Other names include hierba del vaso (Spanish) and cotx (Seri).[4] Another Spanish name for it is incienso because the dried sap was burned by early Spanish missions in the New World as incense.

Habitat[edit]

E. farinosa can be found in a variety of habitats from dry, gravelly slopes to open, sandy washes up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft). It requires a very sunny position in a deep very well-drained soil. It does well in cultivation often being used for border, erosion control, ground cover and massing [5] and recently has spread dramatically in areas not natural to its distribution in large part because Caltrans has begun to use it in hydroseeding.

Description[edit]

Brittlebush grows up to 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 in) tall,[6] with fragrant leaves 3–8 cm long, ovate to deltoid, and silvery tomentose. The capitula are 3.0–3.5 cm in diameter, with orange-yellow ray florets and yellow or purple-brown disc florets. They are arranged in loose panicles above the leafy stems fruit 3–6 mm and no pappus is seen.[1]

3-Acetyl-6-methoxybenzaldehyde is found in the leaves of E. farinosa.[7]

Varieties[edit]

Two varieties of E. farinosa are recognized by Flora of North America.[1]

Varieties formerly included E. f. var. radians, now regarded as a separate species E. radians Brandegee.[8]

Uses[edit]

Brittlebush has a long history of uses by indigenous and pioneer peoples.

  • Glue: The resin collected from the base of the plant, yellowish to brown, can be heated and used as a glue. The O'odham and Seri use it for hafting, to hold points on arrows and harpoons.[4]
  • Sealer: A different sort of resin collected from the upper stems is more gummy and generally a clear yellow. The Seri use this to seal pottery vessels.[4]
  • Incense: Early Spanish friars learned that the resin made a highly fragrant incense, akin to frankincense in odor.[9]
  • Gum: The Sells area Tohono O'odham children use upper stem resin as a passable chewing gum.
  • Toothbrush: Oldtime cowboys used brittlebush stem as a fine toothbrush.
  • Medicinal: Seri use brittlebush to treat toothache; the bark is removed, the branch heated in ashes, and then placed in the mouth to "harden" a loose tooth.[4] The Cahuilla used brittlebush to treat toothaches as well,[10] and used it as a chest pain reliever by heating the gum and applying it to the chest.[10][11]
  • Waterproofing: It has been used to waterproof containers [5]
  • Varnish: It has been melted then used as a varnish [5]
E. farinosa in California's Colorado Desert

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brittlebush, incienso, Encelia farinosa A.Gray ex Torrey
  2. ^ http://bonap.net/MapGallery/County/Encelia%20farinosa.png
  3. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  4. ^ a b c d Felger, Richard Stephen; Moser, Mary Beck (1985). People of the Desert and Sea: Ethnobotany of the Seri Indians (2. print. ed.). Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816508186. 
  5. ^ a b c "Encelia farinosa Brittle Bush, Brittlebush, Incienso PFAF Plant Database". www.pfaf.org. Retrieved 2016-03-26. 
  6. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (ed.) Brittlebush – Encelia farinosa at the Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed 1 April 2013.
  7. ^ Gray, Reed; Bonner, James (19 March 1948). "Structure Determination and Synthesis of a Plant Growth Inhibitor, 3-Acetyl-6-methoxybenzaldehyde, Found in the Leaves of Encelia Farinosa". Journal of the American Chemical Society 70 (3): 1249–1253. doi:10.1021/ja01183a114. PMID 18909201. 
  8. ^ Bohm, Bruce A. (2009). The Geography of Phytochemical Races. Dordrecht: Springer. p. 112. ISBN 9781402090523. 
  9. ^ Dunmire, William W. (2004). Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-70564-7. 
  10. ^ a b "Cahuilla Plants". www.enduringknowledgepublications.com. Enduring Knowledge Publications. Retrieved 2012. 
  11. ^ "Temalpakh Ethnobotanical Garden". www.malkimuseum.org. Retrieved 2007. 

External links[edit]