Herbs & Plants

Coyote Bush

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Botanical Name : Baccharis pilularis
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Baccharis
Species: pilularis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms:  Baccharis consanguinea

Common Names:Dwarf Chaparral Broom, Coyotebrush , Chaparral Broom, Coyote Bush, Bush Baccharis

Habitat : Coyote brush is a common chaparral plant in California and Oregon. It can be found all over California from San Diego County to Oregon, coastal sage scrub and chaparral, hillsides and in canyons below 2500 feet. But like the coyote of legends, it has some pretty ingenious tricks up its s(leaves) as far as survival is concerned.

Coyote brush is a wiry and woody perennial evergreen that looks like a bush. This shrub is generally smaller than 3 meters in height. It is glabrous and generally sticky. The stems are prostrate to erect which branches spreading or ascending. The leaves are 8–55 mm long and are entire to toothed and oblanceolate to obovate, with three principal veins. The heads are in a leafy panicle. The involucres are hemispheric to bell shaped. This species is dioecious (pistillate and staminate flowers occur on separate plants). Both staminate and pistillate heads are 3.5–5 mm long. Phyllaries are in 4–6 series, ovate, and glabrous. The receptacles are convex to conic and honeycombed. The staminate flowers range from 20–30 and there are 19–43 pistillate flowers. They are found in a variety of habitats, from coastal bluffs to oak woodlands. Erect plants are generally mixed (and intergrade completely) with prostrate plants.

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Coyote brush is dioecious, meaning that it produces male and female flowers on different plants. Blooming between August and December, the white fluffy female and yellowish male flowers grow on separate shrubs. The male flowers are stubbier, short, flattish, with a creamy white color. The yellow pollen on the male flowers smells like shaving soap. The female flowers are long, whitish green and glistening. The many flowering heads bloom in clusters on leafy branches. Seeds are small black nuts and hang off a fluffy tuft of hair called a pappus. From October to January the pappus catches the wind and blows away, like dandelions, helping Coyote brush spread its seeds.

It is known as a secondary pioneer plant in communities such as coastal sage scrub and chaparral. In California grasslands, it comes in late and invades and increases in the absence of fire or grazing. Coyote bush invasion of grasslands is important because it helps the establishment of other coastal sage species. Coyote bush is common in coastal sage scrub, but it does not regenerate under a closed shrub canopy because seedling growth is poor in the shade. Coast live oak, California bay, or other shade tolerant species replace coastal sage scrub and other coyote bush-dominated areas, particularly when there hasn’t been fire and grazing.

Coyote bush is used frequently in cultivation, with the cultivar ground cover selections having various qualities of height, leaf color, and texture. It requires good drainage and moderate summer watering. Coyote brush is also drought tolerant, very useful for hedges or fence lines and for ground cover. It is rather deer-proof. It requires watering once a week until established and then about once per month during the first summer. It can mature in one to two years.

The Jepson Manual calls the erect plants just Baccharis pilularis, the same name as the ground cover form. They are considered the same species, because the short and tall plants intergrade completely. Yet only male plants are utilized in landscaping for Baccharis pilularis. If these are substituted for B. pilularis consanguinea in ecological restoration, there will not be as much seed set and recruitment of new individuals. Baccharis species are nectar sources for most of the predatory wasps, native small butterflies and native flies.

Medicinal Uses:
Coast Miwok Indians used the heated leaves to reduce swelling.An infusion of the plant has been used as a general remedy or panacea.

Other uses:
Native Indians used the wood from this bush to make arrow shafts and for building houses. Early pioneers called it “fuzzy wuzzy” because of its silky-haired seeds.

Coyote shrubs provide shelter for wildlife and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects. It is a nurse plant for degraded soil. It is called a pioneer species because it is one of the first shrubs to appear after other plants have been removed by cultivation or fire.

An effective ground-cover plant for sunny banks.  The plant has an extensive root system and is very useful for stabilizing sand dunes etc

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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