Chamise is an erect to spreading, much-branched
shrub growing to 12' tall and is one of the dominant plants of the chaparral
community, often forming almost pure and dense stands. The bark
is reddish to gray-brown, becoming somewhat shreddy as it ages, and
the twigs are glabrous to ± hairy. It has a well-developed
basal burl from which it sprouts after a fire, but it also germinates
from seed. The leaves are linear, from 3/16" to 3/8"
long, thickly fascicled and quite resinous, and there are small acute
stipules. The white flowers are crowded in dense panicles at the
terminal ends of the main branches. Both the five-lobed calyx
and the five petals are tiny, and there are 10(-15) stamens and a single
pistil. Chamise is common and abundant on dry slopes below 5000'
from Baja California to northern California and the Sierra foothills.
It blooms in May and June. Another common name for chamise is greasewood,
and it is called that because of its high resin content which burns
intensely and contributes to the spread of brush fires. There are two other varieties in Southern California, var. obtusifolium, limited to the Southern South Coast and southwest Peninsular Range, and var. prostratum on the Channel Islands. A closely related species
is A. sparsifolium, called red shanks or ribbonbush, which is
easily differentiated by its leaves which are not in fascicles.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Adenostoma 2) fasciculatum.
Pronunciation: ad-en-OS-to-ma fa-sik-yoo-LAY-tum.
Click here for Botanical