Saturday, September 19, 2009


Chamisa, as it's called in New Mexico, is more commonly called rabbitbrush here. Either way, Chrysothamnus nauseosus is one of my favorite fall blooming shrubs. Not only does it signal the changing seasons, but it also reminds me of the many wonderful fall vacations I've had traveling throughout New Mexico.
Rabbitbrush in Crown Hill park, Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Chamisa is so symbolic of the southwest that it is often featured in both historic and contemporary southwestern art, such as in these paintings by one of my favorite artists, Robert Daughters.
This plant is native or naturalized to many areas of the west, most commonly seen in disturbed areas, along roadsides etc. that are sunny and dry. These shrubs have a coarse, rangy, texture and are typically 4-6 feet tall, although there is a dwarf form that matures to about 2 feet.
Dwarf Rabbitbrush in bloom now in my garden.

I recommend that you stick with the dwarf form in smaller, urban settings, or use the standard (4' size) as a back drop for other xeric plantings and give them a hard cutting-back in early spring. They are ideal in large, naturalized areas where they can grow to their quirky best.


Pam/Digging said...

I've loved chamisa ever since first visiting Santa Fe in the fall. It also looks pretty under the first snowfall of the season. Hmm, I wonder if it would grow here in Austin? Probably too much rain for it in the winter, hard as it is to imagine central TX having too much rain for anything. ;-)

Allison said...

Mmmm! So many wonderful autumn memories evoked! You're making me just a bit homesick!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Pam, the growing conditions that you have to deal with makes your beautiful garden (and those that you let us "tour" with you) all the more amazing!

Allison, we'll just have to plan a trip to Taos for next fall...