Desert Sweet

Also known as fern bush, desert sweet (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) is the only species in its genus.

An upright, many-stemmed shrub, desert sweet is a sticky plant with fragrant foliage. The alternate, leathery leaves are fernlike. In warm climates desert sweet is more or less an evergreen, while in colder areas the shrub is deciduous.  The white, rose-like flowers are clustered in a terminal inflorescence.

A native plant that is very drought tolerant, desert sweet is found in states west of the Rockies, except in Washington. Commonly found on cinder cones and basalt lava, desert sweet also grows in limestone and granite soils that are well drained.

Desert sweet makes a good browse for mule deer, sheep and goats and is sometimes eaten by cattle. Native Americans made a tea from the plant to treat stomach aches. Today desert sweet is used as an ornamental planting.

This desert sweet was growing on the basalt at the entrance of Skull Cave at the Lava Beds National Monument in California.

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