My Favorite Desert Shrub

Creosotes don't look like anything special; they resemble a tangled pile of branches. However, these craggly bushes are actually "miracle-grow" plants that can be thousands of years old. Creosotes clone themselves to reproduce, so all creosotes in an area are likely to be genetically identical. Sometimes they form a ring, a family circle. In areas of high wind, the clones spring up downwind from the leader in a straight line.

Though it can take 120 years for a creosote to grow one foot, the slow, steady cloning process means that some creosote colonies are as much as 9,000 years old. A straight-line colony near Palm Springs may be 11,000 years old, the oldest living thing on earth.

The Quest

I have observed creosotes throughout the Mojave Desert. They define the Mojave landscape. How many people just drive by without noticing?


To me, creosotes symbolize the challenge to learn more about nature. When I first saw creosotes throughout the landscape, I didn't think much about them. However, when I started reading about the desert and the incredible facts related to creosotes, I became fascinated with them.