Chrysothamnus nauseosus
(Gray or Common Rabbit-brush)
[(Pall.) Brit.]

Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Family Description: Aster (Sunflower)

Key Characteristics:
Branching shrub of dry areas. Twigs flexible, covered with felt-like persistent tomentum. Flowers in the fall. No ray flowers. Highly variable.
  • alternate
  • 2-7 cm long, 0.5-3 mm wide
  • not obviously twisted
  • tomentose to almost glabrous
  • perfect , 6.5-11 mm long
  • numerous, narrow heads in terminal, rounded cymes, discoid (no ray flowers)
  • 6-13 mm long involucre
  • 20-25 involucral bracts imbricate, obtuse or acute: not green tipped
  • pappus of numerous capillary bristles

General Description:
This fall-blooming, up to 4 foot tall shrub has twigs which due to a covering of hair appear gray-green. It has narrow, almost grass-like gray-green leaves. It is common among sage brush, along roadsides, steam banks, and after fires. It has clusters of yellow flowers, usually in September which are followed by whitish tufts of pappus. It has a sweetish, resinous smell, aromatic with an almost pine-like odor.

British Columbia to Alberta, south to Texas and northern Mexico.

Moderately alkaline, dry, open slopes at moderate to low elevations, often in slightly disturbed areas with sagebrush or in vacant lots.

Favorite food of white-tailed and black-tailed jackrabbits. The name means golden shrub. Native Americans chewed the bark and wood for a chewing gum and used a teas wash for skin sores. Fresh and dried flowers can be used as a dye–gold colors with mordants of alum, copper or tin or chrome for a rust color, or iron for green color. From the fall flowers, bees make a strong-flavored, amber-colored honey.

Important State References:
No information available at this time.
Photos & Information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002