Monday, September 12, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Chamisa

Chamisa (also known as Rabbitbush) is a member of the Asteraceae family. It is a deciduous shrub, similar to sagebrush with a native range in the arid Western United States and Mexico. It is a shrubby, 12- to 90-inch perennial, producing pungent-smelling, golden-yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. Chamisa is seen literally everywhere in Northern New Mexico and is synonymous with the landscape of both Santa Fe and Taos. Chamisa is a significant source of food for browsing wildlife on winter ranges. Dense stands of chamisa often grow on poorly managed rangelands, in disturbed areas along roadways, and on abandoned agricultural property. It is, however, locally prized as a xeriscape plant that needs little care or specific watering. It thrives in a wide range of coarse, alkaline soils that are common to desert environments. Pruning the shrub back to several inches in early spring, before new growth begins, may help improve its ornamental value. I love chamisa! ~Jean

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

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