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Encelia farinosa (Brittlebush)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Encelia farinosa

Encelia farinosa A. Gray ex Torr.

Brittlebush, Goldhills, Incienso

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Encelia farinosa var. farinosa, Encelia farinosa var. phenicodonta, Encelia farinosa var. radians

USDA Symbol: enfa

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I)

A round, silvery-gray, leafy bush with bright yellow flower heads that bloom in loosely branched clusters on branched stalks well above the foliage. Goldhills or brittlebush is rounded in shape, growing 1-5 ft. high with fragrant, yellow, daisy-like flowers hovering above the woolly, almost-evergreen foliage. Early in the spring the leaves are pale green. By summertime, a new set of velvety-white leaves has appeared.

In full flower, Brittlebush seems a solid hemisphere of brilliant yellow. The stems exude a fragrant resin that was chewed by Native Americans and used as incense in the churches of Baja California. A similar species, California Encelia (E. californica), which grows near the coast in southern California, has only one head in each stalk.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall, often shorter.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Rays yellow. Discs yellow to brownish purple.


USA: AZ , CA , HI , NV , UT
Native Distribution: AZ & s.w. UT to s. CA, s. to Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry, rocky slopes; brushy areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Rocky or sandy soils.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Increase by cultivating self-sown seedlings or by tip cuttings.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Groundcover for erosion control
September 23, 2008
I live in southern california. What is the best groundcover to plant on a slope to prevent erosion?
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Encelia farinosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Encelia farinosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Encelia farinosa


Record Modified: 2022-12-26
Research By: TWC Staff

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