Herb: Rubber Rabbitbrush


Latin name: Chrysothamnus nauseosus


Synonyms: Ericameria nauseosa


Family: Compositae



Medicinal use of Rubber Rabbitbrush:

A decoction of the twigs has been used in the treatment of toothaches, coughs and chest pains. An infusion of the flowering stems has been used in the treatment of colds and TB. An infusion of the leaves and stems has been used to treat colds, diarrhoea, stomach cramps etc. It has also been used externally as a wash for sores and skin eruptions, especially smallpox. The plant shows slight bactericidal activity. In small doses, the extracts lowered the blood pressure briefly in rabbits. In large doses, the fall in blood pressure was pronounced, accompanied by circulatory and respiratory failure.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

Flovering:
September
to October

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy, gravelly, or heavy clayey and alkali soils in open places in sagebrush, juniper-pinyon and ponderosa-pine zones at low elevations and occasionally found at higher elevations.

Edible parts of Rubber Rabbitbrush:

A gum obtained from the root is used for chewing.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant is a source of latex, used in making rubber. There is no commercially viable method of extracting it as yet. This species has been identified as one of the more promising species from western N. America for the production of biocrude (hydrocarbon and hydrocarbon-like chemical fraction of plants which may be extracted by organic solvents and upgraded to liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks). Finding the cyclohexane extract to be 15.1%, the ethanol extract 20.8%, McLaughlin and Hoffmann (1982) calculated 13.2 kBTU/lb. in the extractables, a biomass yield of ca 4.5 MT/ha or 12.5 bbls, at a per barrel cost of $50.00 or $13.10/million BTU. The leaves have been used as a sanitary towel, especially after childbirth. A green dye is obtained from the bark. A yellow-gold dye is obtained from the flowers. The growing plant repels insects. The cottony fruiting heads are used as a stuffing material for pillows etc.

Propagation of Rubber Rabbitbrush:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in spring in a greenhouse and only just covering the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in sand in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry sandy, gravelly, or heavy clayey and alkali soils in open places in sagebrush, juniper-pinyon and ponderosa-pine zones at low elevations and occasionally found at higher elevations.

Known hazards of Chrysothamnus nauseosus:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.