Ericameria nauseosa
Common name: 
Gray Rabbitbrush
Rubber Rabbitbrush
er-ik-kam-MEER-ee-uh NO-zhe-o-sah
Chrysothamnus nauseosus
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Evergreen shrub (deciduous in colder zones), erect, slender stems, to 7 ft (2 m) tall, rounded.  Twigs grayish to yellow, when cut they exude a milky latex that contains chrysil, a high grade rubber which vulcanizes easily.  Leaves alternate, simple, 1-6 cm long, about 1-2 mm wide, linear, often garyish-green, covered with a woolly (tomentose) or soft pubescence on both surfaces (see below), petiole absent (sessile).  Flowers golden-yellow, pungent-smelling, in terminal rounded clusters; each flower head has 5 tubular flowers.  Fruit a smooth or minutely hairy, 5-ribbed, achene.  Note: leaf and flower characters vary considerably among the subspecies of E. nauseosa; Gray forms have tomentose involucres (bracts subtending the flower cluster) and gray to whitish foliage and stems, whereas Green forms are characterized by glabrous involucres and greenish leaves and stems.
  • Sun.  Drought resistant, has a deep taproot and little or no supplemental water required, also resistant to salt stress, low-care.  The white/gray foliage, abundant flowering, and tolerance for poor conditionsmakes gray rabbitbrush well suited for desert landscaping. If watered in the landscape the plant can become rank, floppy and unattractive.  Best with no maintenance except yearly shearing.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3     Native range extends from southern British Columbia through Saskatchewan, south through the Great Plains to northern Mexico, and west to the Pacific Ocean.  Well adapted to arid situations and often found along with sagebrush.
  • The "gray" and "green" groups (see above) were formalized as subspp. nauseosa and consimilis by G. L. Nesom and G. I. Baird (1993), each containing a number of varieties (Flora of North America).
  • nauseosus: disagreeable flavor or odor.  The "smell given off when the leaves or flowers are crushed, described as pineapple-like by some and foul and rubbery by others" (USDA, Forest Service).
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, early summer

    plant habit, early summer

  • new growth

    new growth

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • leafy shoot

    leafy shoot

  • branch, close-up

    branch, close-up

  • fall flowering

    fall flowering

  • used in an arid landscape

    used in an arid landscape

  • flower heads

    flower heads

  • flower cluster

    flower cluster

  • developing fruit (seed) cluster

    developing fruit (seed) cluster

  • fruit (seed) cluster

    fruit (seed) cluster