[The Rose Family in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush

Purshia tridentata

Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate

Flowers of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Close-up of the flowers of antelope bitterbrush as seen along the Old Headquarters Road in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington..........May 24, 2009.

Characteristics:

Bitterbrush is an erect, stiff, and abundantly branched shrub up to 2.5 meters tall. It is freely branched, although under constant grazing, it may be more compact and globose in shape. The young stems are reddish-brown in color, becoming reddish-gray brown with age. The leaves are alternate on short spur shoots off the main stem and deciduous. They are wedge-shaped with 3 rounded teeth at the tip. The leaves range from 10-20 mm in length and are short-haired, with green upper surfaces and gray woolly below. The leaf margins may be rolled under.

The flowers appear singly and are pale yellow in color. The 5 lobes of the calyx are each 6-8 mm long and ovate-oblong in shape. The petals are obovate-oblong in shape or spatulate and 6-9 mm long.


Importance:

Bitterbrush is an important browse species for hoofed mammals such as mule deer and pronghorn. It was used by native Americans for firewood. Although the seeds are bitter, they are cached or eaten by rodents in large quantities.


Habitat:

Bitterbrush is found in sandy, gravelly, or rocky soils in arid habitats both in the open and in juniper or ponderosa pine forests.


Range:

Bitterbrush may be found from British Columbia south along the eastern slopes of the Cascades through Washington and Oregon and mostly along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada to Inyo County California. Eastward, it is found to western Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-1800' from east of the Little White Salmon River east to Haystack Butte.


Ventral and dorsal leaf surfaces of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Newly sprouting leaves on Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

The photo at left shows the whitish lower lower leaf surface (uppermost) and greener upper leaf blade (lowermost) of bitter-brush as seen from 4000' at the southeastern corner of Mt. Adams..........June 2005. The photo at right shows new leaves sprouting from buds along a branch of bitterbrush as seen along a small stream on USFS lands to the east of the Wasco County Rock Quarry, Sevenmile Hill......February 21, 2020.

Flower bud of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Cluster of flowers of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Additional close-up photos of a flower bud and cluster of flowers of bitterbrush as seen at Pasture Point along Washington Highway 14 in south-central Klickitat County, WA............April 20, 2011.

Close-up sideview of the calyx and flower of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Close-up of the flower of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Close-ups of the flowers of antelope bitterbrush as seen along Washington Highway SR 14 at MP 115.5 in the eastern Columbia River Gorge...........April 18, 2010.

Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Antelope bitterbrush as seen on the grounds of The Dalles Discovery Center.........April 5, 2016.

Flowers of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Flowers of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Antelope bitterbrush as seen along the Lyle-Cherry Orchard Trail, Columbia River Gorge...........April 2, 2015.

Flower of Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate) - Antelope Bitterbrush, Antelope Brush, Antelope-brush, Bitterbrush: Purshia tridentata (Synonyms: Kunzia tridentate, Purshia tridentata var. tridentata, Tigarea tridentate)

Close-ups of antelope bitterbrush as seen along the Old Headquarters Road in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area of south-central Washington..........May 24, 2009.

Paul Slichter