Yellow, drought-resistant, and part of the Family Asteraceae describes the rabbitbrush shrub that grows in dry areas of North America. It has a pleasant and strong smell. The grey form, as opposed to the green form, has fourteen varieties. Its scientific name Chrysothamnus nauseosus has recently changed to Ericameria. Rabbitbrush is similar to sagebrush. The term nauseosus refers to its fragrance.
This native shrub grows from one to eight feet tall. It has a long stem covered in silvery hairs. The yellow flowers bloom from the end of July through the end of October. Rabbitbrush is easy to grow and requires little care. It is not competitive. This plant helps to stabilize areas with severe erosion. It grows well in cold temperatures and like salty soils. It prefers an elevation between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
This perennial wildflower provides habitat for wildlife, especially insects, because it provides cover during the late summer and autumn. Rabbits, small rodents, birds, also use the leaves for food during the summer. These animals do not eat it. They just use it for shelter. Livestock, except sheep, do not use this plant. If animals do use the plant, it is during the winter when other vegetation is scarce.
Its seeds blow in the wind, making it useful for pollinators, like bees and butterflies. They utilize rabbitbrush for their home. It will regrow after a fire. To keep the plant from spreading too far, after it blooms, cut the top for about one inch.
To effectively grow, this wildflower needs lots of room because its roots run deep. This plant makes a mess with its many seeds and leaves that drop on the ground. Rabbitbrush grows quickly and covers bare areas well. To keep the plant from overgrowing, cut it back to one foot tall in the spring.
Rabbitbrush has many uses. American Indians used it for a yellow dye, in basket-making, for syrups, chewing gums, tea, and medicinally for chest pain. They used it as a rubber substitute during World War 2. However, making rubber from it is expensive. Studies also indicate it may repel insects and have medicinal properties.
In conclusion, this fast growing, native plant may provide rubber and other needed chemicals to the environment. It is easy to get and grow. Nurseries have it in stock. The plant will not grow well in humid areas. It requires drought and desert areas. The plant has a similar seedpod found in dandelions.