Near Lancaster in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Prime Desert Woodland Preserve
This large wiry creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) before you, the only creosote bush in this woodland, is about 10 feet high and 20 feet in diameter; it has been estimated to be nearly 800 years old by botanists. This may be the oldest living organism in Lancaster and the entire Antelope Valley. There is another creosote bush called "King Clone" growing near Ridgecrest. Scientists estimate that this bush was started as long as 8,000 to 11,000 years ago. Part of the bush died long ago, but clonal offshoots from the original central plant still survive. The plant measures over 36 feet in diameter.
The olive-green creosote bush is one of the most wide-spread and versatile shrubs in the Mojave Desert. It has small, bright, shiny yellow-green leaves, scraggly black stems, yellow flowers, and fuzzy, white "seed-balls" that resemble cotton balls.
Its nickname is "the little stinker" because its leaves are covered with a thick coat of resin. Although the resin aids in waterproofing the plant, it also creates a very peculiar odor, especially after a rain. Its musty odor and bad tasting sap may help protect it from
Creosote bushes frequently occupy hardpan caliche soil. The plant grows by adding new stems and roots to its outside edge. The roots spread out not far below the surface of the soil where they can absorb any available moisture. Gradually the inner stems die and the growing outer edge forms a ring. During a drought, the plant remains in a condition known as "drought dormancy." This condition permits the creosote to stay alive when other plants die. These bushes can live as long as five years without rain.
The early trailblazer explorer John C. Frémont described this plant as “a rather graceful plant, it’s leaves exhaling a singular but very agreeable odor.“ It is said that some Native Americans roasted the seeds and ate them like peanuts. The plant was also used by some Indians for medicinal purposes, including antiseptics for wounds and sores and tea for gastric problems.
Erected by City of Lancaster.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & Forestry • Native Americans • Parks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 34° 40.207′ N, Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 43201 35th Street W, Lancaster CA 93536, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. F/A-18, NASA Tail Number 842 (approx. 2½ miles away); Neil A. Armstrong (approx. 3.3 miles away); Brig. General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager (approx. 3½ miles away); Colonel William J. “Pete” Knight (approx. 3½ miles away); Fred Wallace Haise (approx. 3½ miles away); Lt. Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, (USAF Retired) (approx. 3½ miles away); Col. Robert L. "Silver Fox" Stephens, USAF (approx. 3.6 miles away); Lt. Col. Robert G. "Bob" Ferry, USAF (approx. 3.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lancaster.
Also see . . . Prime Desert Woodland Preserve. City of Lancaster entry (Submitted on February 24, 2020.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 24, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 81 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 24, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.