Shrubs, 30-150 cm (sap fragrant). Stems branched distally, tomentose, developing smooth barks. Leaves cauline (clustered near stem tips); petioles 10-20 mm; blades silver or gray, ovate to lanceolate, 20-70 mm, apices obtuse or acute, faces tomentose. Heads in paniculiform arrays (branching among heads mainly distal). Peduncles glabrous except near heads (± yellow). Involucres 4-10 mm. Phyllaries lanceolate. Ray florets 11-21; corolla laminae 8-12 mm. Disc corollas yellow or brown-purple, 5-6 mm. Cypselae 3-6 mm; pappi 0. 2n = 36. Flowering Feb-May, Aug-Sep. Coastal scrub, stony desert hillsides; 0-1000 m; Ariz., Calif., Nev.; Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora). Plants of Encelia farinosa with brown-purple disc corollas, found along the Colorado and Salt rivers, and common in Baja California, are var. phenicodonta. Plants with substrigose leaves, capitulescences branched toward bases rather than distally, and ray florets reduced in both size and number are most often hybrids and backcrosses between E. farinosa and E. frutescens. P. A. Munz (1959) indicated that I. L. Wiggins had reported var. radians Brandegee ex S. F. Blake as occurring in southeastern California; that variety is known only from Baja California.
Benson and Darrow 1981, FNA 2008, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: brittlebush Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Compact, rounded subshrub, 30-100 cm tall; stems tomentose, much-branched distally, eventually developing smooth bark. Leaves: Alternate, on petioles 1-2 cm long, clustered near stem tips; blades ovate to lanceolate, 2-7 cm long, densely white-tometose, giving the leaves a light silvery sage green color. Flowers: Flower heads yellow, large and showy, radiate, elevated above the herbage on peduncles that are yellow-green and glabrous except near the flower heads; involucre (ring of bracts wrapped around flower head) hemispheric, 4-10 mm wide, the bracts (phyllaries) 20-30 in 2-3 series, lanceolate; ray florets 10-20, the laminae (ray petals) yellow, 1 cm long; disc florets dark yellow to brown-purple, 5-6 mm long. Fruits: Achenes 3-6 mm long, compressed; with no pappus. Ecology: Found on dry, rocky or gravelly slopes below 3,000 ft (914 m); flowers November-May. Distribution: sw UT, s NV, AZ, s CA; south to nw MEX Notes: A very distinctive plant with its bluish to gray-green powdery looking leaves; the whole plant usually rounded in form and surrounded by bright yellow flower heads. Where the species is common it turns whole hillsides yellow in the springtime. Ethnobotany: Used for toothaches and for pain; the gum was chewed by children, used to fasten arrow points, as a waterproofing gum, and melted down for a varnish. Etymology: Encelia is named for Christoph Entzelt (1517-1583) a German naturalist; farinosa means mealy or powdery. Synonyms: Encelia farinosa var. farinosa, Encelia farinosa var. phenicodonta, Encelia farinosa var. radicans Editor: SBuckley 2010, AHazelton 2016