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Yellow Rabbitbrush: Beneficial, sure, but…

By on October 29, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Jaana Hatton

When most flowers have bloomed and faded, yellow rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus) is just getting started. It brightens the landscape starting in the early fall.

This late-bloomer in the sunflower family is both delightful and beneficial.

Well, if you can ignore the pungent scent that is reminiscent of old gym socks, it is delightful. Also, beware of its sticky fingers: viscidiflorus means “sticky flowers.”

The bush benefits elk and deer, for example, when other forage is diminishing in the fall. The plant also offers nesting places for birds and rodents. Butterflies love it, too.

Humans can love it, as well, for its usefulness as a restoration plant. Depleted rangelands and roadsides can be easily revegetated with the robust yellow rabbitbrush.

Yellow rabbitbrush produces, of course, yellow flowers. The shrub can be anywhere from 8 to 39 inches tall. The stems are covered with pale green or grayish bark.

It thrives in desert to semi-desert habitats. This perennial can often be found mingling with sagebrush. They have an understanding: rabbitbrush will first take over a disturbed landscape and over time yield control to sagebrush; everybody lives happily ever after.

Yellow rabbitbrush by Jaana Hatton

As useful as yellow rabbitbrush is, it can exhibit some “weedy” behavior: it is hard to control once established. It is, however, susceptible to the larvae of hairy yellow-marked buprestid. Nature knows how to even out the score.

As always: when in nature, be a protector not a collector, please.

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