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Creosote Bush, Coville Creosote Bush, Grease-wood, Cabonadera, Gobernadora, Hediondilla, Gaumis, Hedionda, Falsa Alcaparra
Larrea tridentata


The gnarled, gray, sparsely-foliated branches of creosote bush are a common sight in the hardpan soils of the Chihuahuan desert in the Trans-Pecos, as well as in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts and throughout the Southwest. In Texas it also grows from the Edwards Plateau to the Rio Grande Plains, and into Mexico. Its small, glistening, olive-green leaves are sticky with a strongly-scented resin that often permeates the air, especially after a rain. It produces yellow flowers almost all year round, but primarily in spring, followed by silver-furred round fruit. Creosote bush is extremely tolerant of drought and heat, and must have well-drained soil and sun to thrive. Its evergreen leaves, distinctive form, long flowering period, showy fruit, fragrance and drought tolerance make it an exceptional ornamental for dry gardens of the arid west. It can be used as a speciman, hedge, or for soil stabilization. The leaves and branches have been used medicinally in folk medicine for various ailments, including rheumatism, intestinal disorders, tuberculosis, and as an antiseptic for healing cuts and sores. A powerful antioxidant substance is contained in the waxy covering of the leaves. Creosote bush is eaten by small mammals and antelope, but is poisonous to sheep and not eaten by cattle, although a livestock feed has reportedly been developed from it.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
medium shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: yellow

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: fuzzy white capsule

Height: 3 to 10 feet

Width: 3 to 10 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: adaptable

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Additional Comments: There are 3 types of the commercial chemical called creosote: One type results from high-temperature treatment of coal (coal tar creosote), one from treatment of beech and other woods (beechwood creosote), and one from the resin of the creosote bush (creosote bush resin).

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