Extremely hardy, drought-tolerant native shrub who provides late-season food for pollinators.
Also known as grey rabbitbrush or chamisa, this hardy high-desert perennial shrub is a companion of sagebrush. The two are often found growing together, and rabbitbrush is easy to mistake for sagebrush until fall, when it garishly covers itself with a stunning mass of bright yellow flowers, providing an important late-season food source for pollinators. Its deep roots and the nutrients cycled back into the soil when it drops its deciduous leaves make rabbitbrush an important plant for bringing nutrients nearer to the soil surface where other plants can make use of them. It can thrive in the most degraded, alkaline, or otherwise crappy soils imaginable and has been used extensively in mine reclamation and other reclamation projects. It has also been used for rubber, hence its common name.
Plants can reach 3-5 feet tall and wide if unpruned. Can be cut back to a few inches above ground each year to keep it from seeding out and preserve a tidy shape for ornamental landscapes, but note that rabbitbrush also provides important food and cover for wildlife in winter. Excellent plant for xeriscapes.
Rabbitbrush is an ancestral medicine in the Intermountain West. It is used as a yellow dye as well. Navajo Geobotanist Arnold Clifford discusses some of the Navajo uses of rabbitbrush in this Native Memory Project video. We acknowledge the impact colonization has had on the ancestral foodways and medicines of this area, and are seeking guidance about how we can best be of use in supporting Indigenous-led efforts to restore these ancestral foodways.
Seeds were sustainably wildcrafted in the Great Basin by Kyle and friends at Native-Seed Company.
Directions: For best results, broadcast seeds onto moist soil in spring or fall as part of a mixture with wheatgrass.
For more information about growing this plant, please refer to the USDA plant guide."Brown Drake Mayfly (Ephemera simulans) on a Yellow Rubber Rabbitbrush Seedskadee NWR" by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0