Herb: Creosote Bush

Latin name: Larrea tridentata

Synonyms: Larrea divaricata, Larrea mexicana

Family: Zygophyllaceae (Creosote-bush Family)

Medicinal use of Creosote Bush:

Creosote bush was widely used by various North American Indian tribes. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat diarrhoea and stomach troubles whilst the young twigs were used to treat toothache and a poultice of the leaves was used to treat chest complaints and as a wash for skin problems. It continued to be widely used as a treatment for rheumatic disease, venereal infections, urinary infections and certain types of cancer, especially leukaemia until its sale was banned in North America due to concern over its potential toxic effect upon the liver. There have been a number of cases of acute or sub-acute hepatitis attributed to the use of this herb and so its internal use is not recommended until further research has been carried out. A tea made from the leaves is used as an expectorant and pulmonary antiseptic. Some N. American Indian tribes heated the shoot tips of this plant and dripped the sap (probably the resin) into tooth cavities to treat toothache.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Desert areas.

Edible parts of Creosote Bush:

The flower buds are pickled in vinegar and used as a caper substitute. The stems and leaves are a tea substitute. The twigs are chewed to alleviate thirst. A resin is obtained from the leaves and twigs, it delays or prevents oils and fats from becoming rancid.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the 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 new growth in spring in a frame.

Cultivation of Creosote Bush:

Desert areas.

Known hazards of Larrea tridentata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.