Monday, September 10, 2012

A Benevolent Beauty

The rubber rabbitbrush is blooming! I’d wondered if the drought would put a damper on our usual late-summer colorfest, but rubber rabbitbrush must be even tougher (and deeper rooted) than I thought.

Bees and butterflies rely on this native-to-the-West shrub for its pollen, and many birds utilize it for seeds and cover. In normal years, deer, antelope, elk, and rabbits consume rubber rabbitbrush in the winter. This summer, however, we’ve observed that the rabbitbrush up in the parched hills was browsed heavily—almost to the ground—apparently acting as a source of moisture.

Fortunately, rabbits and other wildlife aren’t the only beneficiaries of rubber rabbitbrush. Native Americans have used it for making tea, yellow dye, baskets, chewing gum, cough syrup, and a medicine for treating chest pains. Hardy and relatively easy to establish, rubber rabbitbrush is currently used for range revegetation, erosion control, mine reclamation, and low-maintenance landscaping. And I bet that a few desert photographers and artists have also benefited from rabbitbrush.

Some folks see rabbitbrush as a weed. Not me--I'm proud to have it growing on our place!


“Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower - bursting into blossom….Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right….He'll save you!’" –ISAIAH 35:1, 3-4

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