this bush is cheesy

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cheesebush
ambrosia salsola
asteraceae

  • MODERATE to low WATER (terrace to top zone)

  • FULL SUN 

  • HARDY TO teens º F

  • TO ABOUT 3' TALL AND WIDE

  • greenish flowers followed by winged pods

  • LARVAL HOST TO MANY insects

  • good for erosion control in natural areas

It may take a true desert-lover to have the acquired taste for cheesebush (Ambrosia salsola). But this little green, broom-like shrub is an important pioneer plant for disturbed areas, and great for soil stabilization. It is called cheesebush because of the odor the plant gives when leaves are rubbed.

In nature, sans humans, it is found in areas disturbed by flooding and erosion. And like many plants that are pioneer plants, it can contribute to allergies, though usually, it is a large number of plants that make enough to actually bother a person. 

Plants typically grow 3' tall and wide. They can tolerate temperatures into the mid to upper teens º F, full sun, and moderate to low water. Flowers in spring (greenish white flowers) followed by winged pods. 

Many insects are able to get past the chemical defenses that deter grazing cattle. Among these are a leaf beetle, Leptinotarsa lineolata. The black and white banded larva are easily found on the plants by late summer. The adult beetles are green and beige with broken longitudinal stripes.

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Katherine Gierlach