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Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)

General: Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) is a rounded, knee-high to thigh-high shrubs with medium-sized gray leaves and with many flower stalks extending above the tight ball of leaves. Each flower stalk is tipped with a large, yellow, daisy flower. The flower stalks are unbranched persist after the leaves are dropped.

Virgin River Brittlebush is a common component of vegetation communities along washes, on bajadas, and on the lower slopes of mountains in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zone. It can also be common component of hot, dry vegetation communities in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) life zone.

Virgin River Brittlebush is similar to a related species, Goldenhills [Brittlebush] (Encelia farinosa), but in Goldenhills, the flower stalks are branched and the leaves are larger.

Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Note spider in upper-left edge of flower

Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae).

Other names: brittle bush

Plant Form: Small to medium sized, drought-deciduous shrub with a woody base and a rounded, much-branched form. A thicket of small branches supports an umbrella of gray leaves.

Height: Usually about knee-high; to 3 ft.

Bark: Gray.

Stems: Woody base with many short branches.

Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)

Leaves: Triangular (1 inch long), with a narrow tip and broad (1/2-inch wide) base, simple, smooth edge, alternate; gray-green; slightly hairy. Leaves located toward the ends of branches.

Flowers: Blooms in spring, also sporadically throughout the summer and fall (as late as late November) in response to rain. Flowers daisy-like, yellow, about 2-inch diameter, held on long, unbranched stalks above the leaves.

Seeds: Many small seeds; dispersed long distances by wind.

Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Unbranched stalks persist after the flowers are gone

Habitat: Well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils.

Elevation: About 1,500 to 4,500 feet.

Distribution: Occurs across the southwestern deserts from southern California to the southwest corner of Utah and southwest corner of New Mexico, and south into Mexico.

Comments: Virgin River Brittlebush is browsed by mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), but it has little value for domestic livestock. Kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) eat the seeds.

Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Developing seed
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Developing seed
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
Plant in snow; notice unbranched stems
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)
More to come ...
Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) Virgin River Brittlebush (Encelia virginensis)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 170828

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