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Blooming Desert Photos: Brittlebush Plants Thrive in the Dry Southwest

Past their prime

desert blooms

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher.)

The abundance of seeds produced by brittlebush scatter across the desert floor, and are dispersed between the rocks of the desert mountains. These seeds become a crucial food source for the desert animals. Birds and rodents consume most of the brittlebush seeds, seemingly aware that this is their last great feast until the rains of the summer monsoons come again in roughly four months.

Inciensio

desert blooms

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher.)

The broken foliage of brittlebush gives off a distinct, yet pleasant, odor. Broken twigs ooze a golden resin sap that will quickly harden in the dry desert air to form hard, glistening globules. When the Spanish conquistadors and priests worked these lands, they would collect these globules and burn them as incense. Thus, the Spanish called the brittlebush "Inciensio."

Spring flowers

desert blooms

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher.)

If you ever travel to this part of the world during the early days of spring, don’t expect the landscape to be dominated by the normal shades of brown. The dominant color of this land during these cool days of early spring is yellow, with the common brittlebush being a major contributor to this colorful annual display.