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Info Sheet PDF
Brittlebush

Encelia farinosa

Mature Height*: 

2-4 ft

Mature Width*: 

2-4 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone Range:

7 to 11

Hardy to: 

10°F

Water Requirements: 

Drought Tolerant

Shade Requirements:

Full Sun

Native to:

Sonoran and Mojave deserts, Arizona

Origin and Adaptability:

Native to the arid landscapes of North America, particularly in the southwestern regions, Encelia farinosa, commonly known as Brittlebush, exhibits exceptional adaptability to various climates. Thriving in well-drained soils, especially in regions with gravelly slopes or open sandy washes, this resilient shrub offers unique and versatile design options. Also known as Brittlebrush or Incienso, Brittlebush is well-suited for landscapes with arid conditions, providing designers with an attractive and water-wise choice.

Architectural Form and Foliage:

Brittlebush boasts a captivating, low-growing shrub form, adorned with silver-green, aromatic foliage and vibrant yellow flowers. Its exceptional form provides designers with an aesthetically captivating canvas, particularly when utilized for naturalized garden designs. Whether used as a standalone feature, an accent in mixed plantings, or part of a xeriscape backdrop, its foliage adds a touch of sophistication to outdoor designs, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal with its distinctive growth habit.

Floral Display and Growth Speed:

Brittlebush produces stunning clusters of bright yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom profusely during the spring. With a moderate growth rate, this species ensures a balanced combination of prompt establishment and long-term manageability for landscape designers, allowing for the creation of landscapes that evolve gracefully over time.

Light and Water Requirements:

Thriving under full sunlight, Brittlebush reaches its full potential when exposed to at least six hours of sunlight daily. As a drought-tolerant species, consistent watering during the establishment phase ensures optimal growth and resilience. This adaptability makes it an ideal choice for sustainable landscape designs where water conservation is a priority.

Wildlife Support and Biodiversity:

Brittlebush plays a vital role in supporting local biodiversity, attracting a multitude of pollinators such as bees and butterflies with its vibrant flowers. As a native plant, it contributes to the well-being of the ecosystem, providing food and habitat for native wildlife.

Native American Cultural Significance and Local Context:

Brittlebush holds cultural significance in Native American traditions. Traditionally, indigenous communities, including the Native American tribes of the southwestern United States, have utilized Brittlebush for various purposes, including medicinal applications and crafting. Its presence in the local landscape reflects a deep connection to the region's cultural heritage. It is also referred to as "incienso" in Spanish, as early Spanish missions in the New World used to burn the dried sap as a form of incense.

Challenges and Considerations:

Brittlebush is generally low-maintenance but can become brittle and break easily when dry. This characteristic requires careful handling during planting and pruning. Proper pruning and maintenance ensure optimal blooming cycles, guaranteeing a continuous display of its vibrant flowers. It is crucial to note that Brittlebush may be susceptible to overwatering, so well-drained soil is essential.

Integration into Landscape Designs:

With its striking floral and foliage display, cultural adaptability, and moderate growth rate, Brittlebush seamlessly integrates into diverse landscape designs. Designers can use it to enhance xeriscape gardens, introduce a pop of color in arid landscapes, create naturalized meadows, or as a key element in native plant designs, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces.

Designing with Brittlebush:

For landscape architects and designers, Encelia farinosa, commonly known as Brittlebush, offers an opportunity to infuse outdoor spaces with vibrant floral beauty, wildlife support, and an adaptable essence. Whether planted individually or in masses, Brittlebush empowers the creation of dynamic and environmentally conscious outdoor spaces that support local wildlife and biodiversity.

*Height and width estimated for growth in the Tucson, AZ area. True sizes may vary.

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