Botanist's Glossary

Creosote Bush - Larrea divaricata

  • Description
    • The creosote bush (Zygophyllaceae family) is a spiny, shrubby plant and a characteristic feature of American and Mexican deserts. Suited to arid conditions (another name for the plant is chaparral), it also has exceptional longevity: some populations of shoots derived from the same root stock have an estimated age of 11,700 years (Mohave desert). It earned the name "creosote bush" owing to the characteristic creosote odor given off by its leaves.
  • Traditions
    • For many Californian Indian tribes, the creosote bush was considered a panacea, for both its internal uses (pulmonary congestion, blood poisoning, etc.) and external uses (inflammation, pains, wounds, etc.) It was also used as a shampoo and deodorant. The creosote bush produces a resin with regenerating properties, used to rebuild the skin and promote hair growth. Research is ongoing into numerous other medicinal applications.
  • Properties
    • Creosote bush resin extract preserves the "youthful potential" of skin cells. It also helps to protect the skin against the irritating effects of the sun.