Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Presented in Association with the
Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences

Larrea tridentata (Sesse & Mocino ex A.P. de Candolle) Coville var. tridentata
(Creosote Bush)

Family: Zygophyllaceae

Status: Native

Synonyms:
Covillea glutinosa (Engelmann) Rydberg
Covillea tridentata Vail
Larrea mexicana Moricand
Zygophyllanum tridentatum Sesse & Mocino ex A.P. de Candolle

Larrea tridentata is a resinous woody shrub and one of the most abundant components of North American deserts including the Chihuahuan Desert, and ranges into some of the lowest elevations of the Gila Region.
The small paired leaflets, fused at their bases, are not symmetrical.
The stipules, at first green, soon become reddish, and secrete copious resin. Stipules at the growing stem enclose and protect the young meristems (growing tip.) After a rain the aroma of terpenes from the wet foliage imparts a magical quality to the crisp desert air. The complex aromatic quality of the foliage has long been appreciated by local people for significant medicinal purposes, including inhalants and poultices, but should not be taken internally due to toxicity.
The fruit is densely hairy and is the result of a five carpellate ovary that results in five indehiscent hairy nutlets.

Please click on an image for a larger file.



Larrea tridentata, photo Russ Kleinman & Bill Norris, Burro Mtns., Engineer Canyon, Apr. 21, 2007



Larrea tridentata, closeup of fruit, photo Russ Kleinman & Richard Felger, Burro Mtns., Engineer Canyon, Dec. 29, 2008



Larrea tridentata, growth form, photo Russ Kleinman & Richard Felger, Burro Mtns., Engineer Canyon, Dec. 29, 2008



Larrea tridentata, 2x macro of single nutlet, photo Russ Kleinman & Richard Felger, Burro Mtns., Engineer Canyon, Dec. 29, 2008



Larrea tridentata, 2x macro triangular stipules, photo Russ Kleinman & Richard Felger, Burro Mtns., Engineer Canyon, Dec. 29, 2008



Larrea tridentata, closeup of branch, photo Russ Kleinman, Mogollon Mtns., Hwy 180 near Pleasanton, January 15, 2010



Larrea tridentata, 1x macro of bifoliately compound leaf with two small pubescent leaflets fused at the base, photo Russ Kleinman, Mogollon Mtns., Hwy 180 near Pleasanton, January 15, 2010


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