Plant of the Month ~~ OCTOBER 2009
Coyote Brush appears in a variety of habitats within our Santa Monica Mountains. While not particularly stunning in appearance, it is appreciated for being one of the few plants that remains green throughout the dry summer and fall months, and it blooms in the fall as well.
Coyote Brush produces clusters of cream colored flowers from August through December. Male and female flowers appear on different plants, with male flowers being smaller and yellower, while female flowers persist longer and have a more fluffy appearance towards the end of bloomtime. The ellipse- or egg-shaped green leaves are small, no more than an inch or so long. They have a rough, resinous texture with scalloped edges and coarse teeth. Stems and branches are copious and woody.
Coyote Brush prefers full sun, and often recedes in more established plant communities. A vigorous grower, it provides an attractive shelter for insects, birds and other wildlife. As such it can play an important role in restoration of plant habitats, such as when an area has been previously burned by fire, or when the desire is to reestablish a Sage Scrub community upon Grasslands. On the flip side, in some cases it is viewed as invasive because it may out-compete other scrub plants.
The genus name Baccharis is in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, so named for the plant's fragrant root. The species name pilularis means having globules, probably referring to the flower buds.
Contributed by Liz Baumann
Curious what was featured in past Plants of the Month? Search the Archives.
References:Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas J. Belzer
California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien
California Herbal Remedies, by LoLo Westrich