Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park
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Tarbush (Flourensia cemua)
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)

Tarbush, Flourensia cemua
Tarbush has characteristic black stems that make it recognizable.
Tarbush 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.
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