Creosote

Creosote branch

You know when it's about to rain in Tucson and you're like, "it smells like rain" like it's your super power?

That's creosote.

It's a plant unique to Tucson and other dry regions like the Mohave Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert. The plant releases that familiar musky, earthy smell from a coating on its leaves that helps it conserve water.

Tucsonans love it. It's nostalgic because it smells like monsoon season. Ironically, the Spanish name for creosote is hediondilla, which loosely translates to little stinker. 

Also known as: Chaparral, Greasewood, Larrea Tridentata.

 

A post shared by s h o n a (@shonasee) on Apr 17, 2017 at 8:11pm PDT

Other facts:

• The creosote bush can go two years without water and can live up to 200 years.

• Desert animals and insects love it. Jackrabbits occasionally eat creosote leaves and dozens of insects call the bush home. 

• It has many medicinal qualities. Some native people used it to treat colds, wounds and skin infections.

Don't wait for another rainy day. 

The Tucson Herb Store, 228 N. Fourth Ave., sells all kinds of creosote stuff like creosote bags, bundles. You can place the bags and bundles in your shower to make your own rain smell or keep it in your car. It smells awesome.

You can also buy creosote oil (creosote leaves and olive oil) that's supposed to be great for your skin because it's a natural antibacterial. Put it on your face and you'll smell like monsoon season. 

You can buy online or in person at Tucson Herb Store's enchanting brick and mortar:

Creosote bags, $6.50

Creosote oil, $8.50

Or you can buy from local shop Wolf Womyns Cauldron, she sells a Chaparral salve on Etsy

Pro tip: Whenever you see a creosote bush, cup some of its branches to your nose, take a deep breath in and be reminded of the rain. You'll most definitely run into a bush on your walk up Tumamoc.

SOURCES: The Backyard Gardener, 2005; The lowly creosote a fragrant desert survivor by George L. Mountainlion, 2005; desertmuseum.org; printable Desert Dweller Cards from nps.gov.


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