Brittlebush

Common Names:
Brittlebush, Incienso
Scientific name:
Encelia farinosa
Subspecies | Variants:
Encelia actoni, Encelia virgensis
Elevation range:
<3,000 ft.
Flowering Months:
January, February, March, April, May
Height | Length:
1-5 ft.
Life Cycle | Lifeform:
Shrub
Notes:
Blooms may carpet large swaths of landscape in rainy years
Ancestral Usage:
medicinal, ritual or tobacco, basketry/tools
State Occurrences:
Desert region:
Mojave, Sonoran

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa flowers and buds. A beetle is visible in the background--all sorts of insects utilize this plant. Anza Borrego Desert State Park | March 2010    

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa displayed in mounds of yellow in the low desert. It does not tolerate prolonged freezing. Mission Creek Preserve, CA | March 2015     

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Brittlebush  in the desert

Flower closeup of Encelia farinosa flower. It is in the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family, and you can see outer ray flowers and inner disc flowers in an unusual dark color that may indicate it is a variety. Vidal, CA | March 2013     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa shares an an eroded hillside with Ocotillo at Sweeney Pass. Anza Borrego Desert State Park | February 2005     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa with honey bee pollinator on the flower. Agua Caliente County Park, CA | February 2014

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Brittlebush  in the desert

Larger than usual specimen of Encelia farinosa clearly displaying its characteristic large silvery leaves. Vidal, CA | February 11, 2013

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa with the Santa Rosa mountains in the background. The plant is also called "Incienso" because it was burned as incense in the Spanish missions. Sap exudes from the stems which smells similar to Frankincense. Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA | March 2010     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa covering an entire hillside in a very wet year. Bow Willow, Anza Borrego Desert State Park | February 2005     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Rounded shrub Encelia farinosa in full flower. Coyote Creek, Anza Borrego Desert State Park | March 2010     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Close view of Encelia farinosa flowers and leaves. Native Americans used this plant for medicinal purposes and its sap as a glue. Palm Springs, CA | March 2016     

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Brittlebush in the desert

Encelia farinosa flowers sit atop naked stalks that are roughly the same length, keeping the rounded appearance of the shrub below. Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park | February 2014