Larrea tridentata – Creosote Bush

Larrea tridentata - Creosote Bush, Creosotebush (flowers and fruit)

Larrea tridentata - Creosote Bush, Creosotebush (flower)

Larrea tridentata - Creosote Bush, Creosotebush (fruit)

Larrea tridentata - Creosote Bush, Creosotebush

Larrea tridentata - Creosote Bush, Creosotebush

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Larrea tridentata

Common Names: Creosote Bush, Creosotebush

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert. This shrub is extremely common and widespread in the desert and is the predominate plant in areas known as creosote flats.

Flower Color: Yellow

Flowering Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Height: To 10 feet (3 m) tall, but usually less, especially in drier or colder locations

Description: The flowers are up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and have 5 twisted petals. The flowers are followed by round, lobed, hairy, white seed capsules. The small, paired leaves are actually a single leaf with 2 split leaflets joined at the base. The leaves are shiny, green, thickened, and waxy-feeling. The branches are gray-brown. These tough, clone-forming shrubs are extremely long-lived, potentially living for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – The pollen is a mild allergen.

Foul-smelling – The crushed or rain-dampened leaves have a resinous creosote odor that some may find unpleasant.

Fragrant – The leaves give off a distinctive resinous odor after rains, especially in the summertime. Many people find this scent pleasant and evocative of rain in the Sonoran Desert.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Zygophyllaceae – Creosote-bush family
Genus: Larrea Cav. – creosote bush
Species: Larrea tridentata (DC.) Coville – creosote bush

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map