Purshia tridentata
[(Pursh) DC.]

Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Family Description: Rose

Key Characteristics:
Also known as Bitter-brush
  • The cuneate leaves are deeply 3 toothed at their apices, resembling Big Sagebrush leaves in size (6-8 mm long) and shape, but are darker green on the upper surface, but almost equally hairy on their lower surfaces.
  • Their margins are revolute
  • The tomentose calyx is very stipitate glandular; the beautiful, yellow, obovate-oblong petals are about 6-9 mm long.
  • The approximately 25 stamens are exerted in one.
  • The teardrop-shaped fruit is reported to be an achene, but is finely puberulent and soft and cartilaginous bearing an, extremely bitter, bright red, 6-8 mm long seed.

General Description:
A freely branched shrub commonly 1-2 M tall, but rarely up to twice that tall: commonly associated with sagebrush which it resembles, but blooms in the spring with beautiful, yellow petaled flowers instead of fall as sagebrush does with non-showy flowers. Antelope-brush has darker green leaves.

East of the Cascades from British Columbia southward through Washington, Oregon into California as far south as Inyo County east through Utah into Colorado and northward through westernWyoming, and Montana.

Grasslands, deserts, dry areas with sagebrush, junipers and Ponderosa Pine.

Antelope Bitter-brush is an excellent browse plant for deer, elk, moose, antelope and domestic cattle. In overgrazed areas, it is planted by governmental agencies, boy scouts and other volunteer groups. It can be grown from either sprouts or seeds. Any Homo sapiens who tastes it usually comments that it is difficult to understand how this species can be a favorite food of so many animals.

Important State References:
No information available at this time.
Photos and Information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002