“You bought a rabbitbrush? Ick!”

Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, still a chrysothamnus.

Yeah, well, whatever. I happen to love rabbitbrush, already have several, didn’t feel much like growing more from seed, and in a few weeks rabbitbrush shines like no other plant. It will take heavy irrigation in a porous soil (Hugh Mozingo, in Shrubs of the Great Basin, notes that it achieves twice the normal height when it seeds into roadside swales where rainfall runs off), and will take no irrigation in plain dirt. I lean toward the latter.

I bought one of the blue ones, too. That’s how it’s labeled, the blue one.

Chrysothamnus nauseosus, now Ericameria nauseosa. Go figure.

In fact, the green one is Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, and the blue one is the rubber rabbitbrush, C. nauseosus. There was a plan during World War 2 to extract rubber from the rubber rabbitbrush (it has that name for a reason) but, even though rabbitbrush is ubiquitous in the West, there wasn’t enough rabbitbrush in the world to justify the amount of rubber that could be processed from the plant.

Taxonomists have had their way with members of the daisy family in North America, and now we are supposed to call most of the rabbitbrushes Ericameria. I’m going to call them rabbitbrushes.

Autumn in Colorado is usually gorgeous; sunny, cool and dry, and the rabbitbrush contributes a great deal to that beauty. I see no reason not to import that into the garden. They also attract a number of native pollinators, as well as the painted lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui.

There was a green rabbitbrush in the front yard, that appeared quite suddenly one year, the way they do, probably from the plants that grew around the wooded area just to the north of here, since bulldozed and planted with scruffy trees fed by a drip irrigation system that squirts water all over the paths and makes weird noises, like a mouse trying to lift a Volkswagen, in the places where the drip goes reasonably close to the trees. The rabbitbrush plants were nicer.

I digress. The North Border, as I’ve said before, has been a problem for years, and thirsty plants do very badly there, despite repeated digging and amending and watering. I had hoped for an excellent display of crocosmias this year, but they were flattened when the fence was installed, and, like Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ at the west, or lower, end of the border, unquenchable in their thirst, and are not for me.

The North Border, on the right.

As a semi-sequitur, the North Border leads under the arbor to the rapidly deteriorating little lawn upon which rests, speaking of rabbitbrushes, the eponymous mammal. “Rests” isn’t quite the right word, because, like the episode of Monty Python, it was desperately trying not to be seen by the owl hooting some yards away.

The board is there, over one of the areas where they tunnel under the fence, to prevent them from sneaking in. Highly effective, obviously.

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4 Responses to rabbitbrush

  1. Lucie K. says:

    I am waiting with baited breath for my Chrysothamnus nauseosus to bloom. I love this plant, especially its pale blue curling stems, beautifully draped over a rock in the SE corner of a very dry bed.

  2. The rabbitbrush is very attractive. I ordered one years ago from Forest Farm because I liked the description so much. Of course it rotted away in my former garden which was damp and shady! But I just wanted to have it, at least for a little while.

    • paridevita says:

      Pretty much the situation here. All the plants were grown in a peat-based mix, and the roots rotted that winter. Now I have a sand pile, which is even better.

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