Tarbush has characteristic black stems that make it recognizable.
is found only in the Chihuahuan Desert; it is a Chihuahuan Desert endemic.
It is a partially winter deciduous shrub (it sheds all leaves in some
winters and retains some leaves in other winters). It will remain
leafless into the summer months until there is adequate soil moisture.
This deep-rooted shrub gets its name from the resins in the leaves, which
have a distinctive, tar-like odor. These resins keep most animals
from feeding on the shrub. Scientists have discovered more than 100 chemical
compounds in tarbush leaves. Some tarbush plants have more compounds
than other, nearby tarbush plants. This may explain why animals
chew on some plants and not others. Small, inconspicuous flower
are produced on tarbush in late fall. In northern Mexico, tarbush
leaves and flowers have been used to treat indigestion.