3-4′ x 6-8′ Chamise is the most abundant plant in the chaparral, sometimes covering whole slopes. The short, deep green linear leaves are set in bundles or ‘fascicles’ hence the species name. Bunches of cream-white flowers form on terminal stems in spring and are followed by attractive rust colored seeds in summer. The leaves contain highly volatile oils that bring out the Spanish common name, ‘chamizo’, which means kindling. A very important plant for soil erosion and survives fires as it re-sprouts from the crown.
The hardwood was important to Native peoples for arrow making. The tips or the arrow shaft could be of Chamise. Larger plants supplied strong stems for building material.