Rubber Rabbit Bush

The rubber rabbit bush is one of the most common plants in Hesperia. The plant is a valuable erosion preventing plant and an attractive drought tolerant plant for garden landscaping.

The rubber rabbit bush is an enormously interesting plant. As itís name indicates, it is a source of latex ... rubber, but it is also a source for the production the polymer plastics and hydrocarbons from which oil cane be made at an estimated cost of $50 per barrel. No commercial uses of this plant exist at the present time.

This is a hardy plant that only needs water once a week in its first year and not at all after that. It tends to repel undesirable insects.

This plant should not be placed where livestock has access to it. Though not particularly palatable, livestock will, on occasion, eat the plant. The plant, when eaten, will lower blood pressure even to the point of cardiac arrest. It should be considered poisonous to livestock.

I have been told by Indian ethnobiological informers that this plant works to control rabbit population. While I have been unable to confirm this assertion from scientific tests, there are scientific tests which confirm that this is possible.

The ethnobotany of the plant is likewise interesting. Native Americans had numerous uses. A green dye was obtained from the bark and a yellow dye from the flowers. The heads were used for pillow stuffing. It has been claimed that the roots were chewed as gum, but given the potential

for the plant causing profound blood pressure decreases, using it a gum is strongly not recommended. Indians had numerous medicinal uses for the rubber rabbit bush, but once again they are not recommended.

There are some beautiful fields of rubber rabbit bush in Hesperia. My favorite field is looking south from Ranchero Road in the Antelope Valley Wash. The Hesperia champion s at Hesperia Lake back in the equestrian area. That particular bush is more than five feet tall and seven or so feet wide. There are larger bushes in other places including a couple along Phelan Road.

This, the first of a series of articles to encourage the residents of Hesperia to plant native plants. In doing so, we can reduce the use of water in our town enormously. Native gardens require much less maintenance and are extremely attractive. The rubber rabbit bush can be purchased at Oak Hills Nursery. Do not try to transplant a wild one.

Here are some resources for you to read more about the rubber rabbit bush:

1. Bean, Lowell J. and Saubel, Katherine Siva, Temalpakh, Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants, Malki Museum P, 1972

2. Berkeley Museum Photo Project, http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/flora/

3. Manual of California Vegetation, California Native Plant Society, http://davisherb.ucdavis. edu/cnpsActiveServer/index.html

4. Native American Ethnobotany, U of Michigan, Dearborn, http://herb.umd.umich.edu/

5. New Crop Online Resource, Purdue University, http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ newcrop/default.html

6. Plants for a Future, http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/D_search.html