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White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Creosote bush habitat
Typical Creosote-Bursage Flats habitat where creosote (dark green) and bursage (gray) dominate.

White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) is a short, rounded shrub that often looks like a low mound of white, lifeless twigs. In the spring, however, it puts on a dense covering of short, lobed leaves and inconspicuous flowers. The flowers are green and spike-like, and the fruits are spiny.

White Bursage is one of the two signature plants of the southwestern deserts, but it generally remains unnoticed beneath the taller creosote bushes with which it shares the landscape on flats and lower slopes in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones.

Around Las Vegas, look for this species in any lower-elevation desert area.

white bursage
Typical shrub.

Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae).

Other names: burrobush, burroweed.

Plant Form: Low, rounded shrub with many branches emerging from the ground and radiating up and outward. The stems generally are crooked and divided.

Height: Generally less than knee-high (about 1.5 feet); maximum about 2 feet.

 

white bursage
Stems dense, branching, and crooked.

Leaves: 3/4 inch long; light colored (smoke colored) due to dense, short, light-colored hairs. Pinnately divided several times. Leaves present only after rain.

Flowers: greenish; no petals; about 1/8 inch wide. Flowers on a terminal spike. Blooms spring to fall.

Seeds: Fruits 1/4-inch long, spiny (not hooked).

White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Ripe fruit

Elevation: up to about 3,000 ft.

Distribution: Southern California deserts east to southwestern Utah and eastern Arizona.

Comments: This is one of the most abundant shrubs in the lower-elevation deserts.

White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) white bursage
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Flower
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Leaves
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Going to seed
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
Going to seed
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage seeds on the ground
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage seeds on the ground
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage seeds on the ground
White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)
White Bursage seeds on the ground
White Bursage seeds on the ground
Ripe fruit; these are the burrs from the Bur-sage.
White Bursage seeds on the ground
Ripe fruit; these are the burrs from the Bur-sage.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 141118

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