What is a Creosote Bush (And How To Use It)

Ever wondered what a Creosote bush is? It’s a bush native to Arizona and it has tons of healing properties. Here’s how you can use it in your everyday life! 

I LOVE the Creosote bush. It’s so hardy and tough, able to withstand the harsh Arizona weather, but it’s also rejuvenating too.

I’m thrilled to introduce this plant to you.

Get to know more about this amazing plant and how I use it in my products.

What Is A Creosote Bush

The Creosote bush – Larrea tridentata –  looks like a regular green shrub and you might see it outside of people’s homes in Arizona and the southwest. It’s a short little thing – reaching an average height of 4 feet tall.

This is mainly because of the lack of water here. If it had tons of water, it could grow as tall as a man! In fact, I personally own 16 and a quarter acres covered in Creosote bushes and there are multiple on my property that are taller than 6 feet.

It’s one of the most fascinating plants to me. It’s incredibly efficient at adapting to the low-rainfall in this state.

Normally when plants “breath,” they take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Well, this process also causes plants to lose water. The Creosote bush makes up for this by only breathing in the morning when the humidity is the highest.

It also faces southeast all the time, so it can soak up as much sun as possible. Smart, right? I think so! This plant is so good at using its resources that anytime you visit the Southwest, you’ll probably see more than a few of these all over the dessert.

And when I say it’s hardy, I mean it. These plants can go up to two years without water and live for up to 200 years. They are clonal plants and they are known to be one of the oldest living organisms on the planet. In California, there is a ring of creosote bushes that is estimated to be 12,000 years old.

I can’t help but think about how a plant that old and wise can withstand time and live that long.  It’s no wonder it can offer so many health-promoting benefits!

In this guide, I’ll tell you even more about this plant, including how important it is to the wildlife, what it smells like, and how to use it.

What Does a Creosote Bush Smell Like?

People like to describe it as smelling like rain! This musky smell comes from a coating on the Creosote’s leaves that helps it preserve water.

There are lots of oils in the plant that make up this smell. Here’s what you’ll find in this plant:

  • Pinene – A compound found in pines
  • Limonene – Citrus
  • Camphor – Pines and rosemary
  • Methanol – Wood alcohol
  • 2-Undercanone – Spices

If you ever get to see one in person, cup your hands around the leaves of the plant and inhale. It’s such a relaxing scent!

Creosote And Wildlife

This plant is super important to local wildlife. Out in the desert, you’ll find animals making their beds under the Creosote bush to avoid the sunlight and predators.

Desert tortoises are a great example! They dig under it and borrow deep near the roots as Kangaroo rats do.

Many of the animals also eat the seeds of the creosote bush. The black-tailed jackrabbit actually lives on them. Desert woodrats prefer to eat the bush’s leaves.

Creosote Bush Uses

Animals aren’t the only ones that use this bush as many people (including us here at the shop) have found tons of ways to use it as well.

It’s truly mind-blowing how one plant can do so much. Here are some of the many ways this plant can be used!

Sealing Lids on Jars

Another way people use this plant is to extract something from the stems called lac. This lac acts like plastic as it melts down when it is heated and hardens when it is cooled.

It’s left behind by an insect that lives on the Creosote bush stem called the Tachardiella larreae.

People indigenous to the Mojave desert have used this substance to seal lids on food jars.

Treatment of Afflictions and Diseases

Ethnobotanist and Director of Northern Arizona University’s Center for Sustainable Environments, Gary Nabhan, wrote the book, Gathering the Desert. In this book, he describes his research into how indigenous people in the southwest used this plant for tons of ailments and homeopathic remedies.

As found in his book, here are just a few of the many different ways people have used this plant medicinally.

  • Colds
  • Chest infections
  • Intestinal Discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Wound Healing
  • Poisons
  • Swollen Limbs from Poor Circulation
  • Dandruff
  • Body Odor
  • Distemper
  • Postnasal Drip

Where To Buy Creosote Bush Products

The best place to buy products that use this amazing plant is right here, at your friendly apothecary!

All of our products are completely homemade. I harvest Creosote from my private property and infuse it into organic oils which are then used to create our handcrafted products.

I’m constantly thinking of and creating new products that include Creosote so I would recommend checking back frequently.

Here are some of the current products in my shop!

Desert Rain Beard Oil

This beard oil made with Creosote smoothes and tames beards while softening the skin underneath too. I used a combination of natural oils such as hemp, avocado, olive and jojoba oil that work together to tame those wild beards.

The Creosote oil in this product gives it an irresistible musky smell and antimicrobial properties as well.

Desert Rain Creosote Salve

This healing salve is amazing and you can use it in so many ways. Some people have found relief from psoriasis and eczema and this product is even doctor recommended. It is an excellent general healing salve!

Desert Rain Creosote Lotion

Just a few drops of this organic lotion will help your skin feel silky smooth and help retain some moisture. The beeswax, aloe vera juice, and Creosote oil all join forces to rejuvenate your skin and help it go back to its natural healthy state.

Creosote Soap

This Desert Rain Creosote soap is excellent for sensitive skin!

As you continuously use it, you’ll smell the relaxing aromas of the desert after heavy rain. It is a gentle, soothing soap that you can use on your face and entire body.

We’ve also received a lot of positive feedback from many people who suffer from eczema that have said this product has helped soothe their skin.

Bug Repellent

Don’t forget to protect yourself from those pesky mosquitos with our handmade bug repellant filled with organic essential oils instead of toxic chemicals. Every oil in my recipe has been found to repel bugs, so this is one heavy-duty and effective spray!

The Amazing Creosote Bush

It amazes me just how many things you can use this Creosote bush for. If you ever have any questions about our products here in our shop or the ingredients we use, please contact us. I’m always happy to chat about the healing power of plants!

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    1. Yes, but go to plant stand and purchase a started grease-wood because the plants are a stinker to start from seed.

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