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SPECIES:  Thamnosma montana
Turpentinebroom at Desert Hot Springs, CA. Image by J. E.(Jed) and Bonnie McClellan © California Academy of Sciences. Used with permission.


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Tesky, Julie L. 1994. Thamnosma montana.In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 27 August 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: Mojave desertrue to: turpentinebroom. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: THAMON SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE: THMO COMMON NAMES: turpentinebroom cordoncillo Mojave desertrue TAXONOMY: The scientific name of turpentinebroom is Thamnosma montana Torrey & Fren. (Rutaceae) [3,15,18,22,30]. There are no recognized infrataxa. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Turpentinebroom is found in the Mojave, Sonora, and Colorado deserts of Baja California, southern California, southern Nevada (Nye and Clark counties), southwestern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico [3,13,15,18,22].
Distribution of turpentinebroom in the United States. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, August 27] [25].

   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper


    3  Southern Pacific Border
    7  Lower Basin and Range
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont

   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K024  Juniper steppe woodland
   K039  Blackbrush
   K040  Saltbush - greasewood
   K041  Creosotebush
   K042  Creosotebush - bursage
   K044  Creosotebush - tarbush

   238  Western juniper
   239  Pinyon - juniper


Turpentinebroom is commonly found in creosotebush (Larrea tridentata)
scrub, blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) scrub, and other warm desert
shrub communities, and in Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and
pinyon-juniper (Pinus spp.-Juniperus spp.) woodlands [5,6,27,18,30].  In
addition to the above mentioned species, turpentinebroom is commonly
associated with desertsenna (Cassia armata), Nevada ephedra (Ephedra
nevadensis), banana yucca (Yucca baccata), Mojave yucca (Y. schidigera),
spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), winterfat (Ceratoides lanata), budsage
(Artemisia spinescens), Utah agave (Agave utahensis), purple sage
(Salvia dorrii), desert almond (Prunus fasciculatus), Dalea spp.,
Atriplex spp., Tetradymia spp., Eriogonum spp., and Lycium spp.
[8,23,27].  Turpentinebroom is not listed as a dominant or indicator
species in the available literature.


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Turpentinebroom is occasionally browsed by desert bighorn sheep [5]. PALATABILITY: Turpentinebroom is not palatable to livestock [26]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES: Turpentinebroom has been used by the Indians as a tonic and in the treatment of gonorrhea [15]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Turpentinebroom commonly accumulates organic material and windblown soil beneath its crown. These shrub mounds serve as an increased source of nutrients and water for turpentinebroom in addition to providing a microhabitat for desert ephemerals [6].


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Turpentinebroom is a native, long-lived, profusely branched, deciduous, perennial shrub 1 to 2.5 feet (30-80 cm) tall [3,22]. It has stout, spine-tipped, broomlike branches that are thickly covered with blisterlike glands and are leafless most of the year [6,13]. Turpentinebroom forms new branches from the root crown, resulting in multiple stems arising from the ground [6,9]. The leaves are 0.16 to 0.6 inch (4-15 mm) long and 0.04 inch (1 mm) wide [3,22]. The flowers are in small cymose or racemose clusters [15].
Turpentinebroom fruits. Image by Charles Webber, © California Academy of Sciences. Used with permission.


Turpentinebroom reproduces by seed.  The flowers are animal pollinated
and the fruit is dispersed by animals [19].  The fruit is a capsule
containing one to three seeds [22,30].  The ability of turpentinebroom
to reproduce vegetatively was not specifically described in the
literature.  However, since it branches from the root crown, 
turpentinebroom may be able to sprout after top-kill.

Turpentinebroom is commonly found on sunny, dry, rocky, or gravelly
slopes and mesas. [3,22,26].  It occurs at the following elevations:

Arizona - 4,500 feet (1,371 m) and lower [15]
California - 5,500 feet (1,676) and lower [18]
Utah - 2,316 to 4,265 feet (760-1,300 m) [30].

Turpentinebroom is present in most stages of succession.  Wells [32]
described it as a pioneer shrub typically found in disturbed areas such
as drainageways and actively eroded bedrock areas.  Others have reported
that turpentinebroom is a long-lived shrub, present in later stages of
desert succession [27,28].  On a sandy bajada in California, 
turpentinebroom was one of the most common species found in an old, stable
creosotebush scrub community [27].

Turpentinebroom flowers in the spring at the same time new vegetative
shoots are being initiated [9,15,18].  It flowers from February through
April in Arizona, and from March through May in California [15,18].
Turpentinebroom leaves are deciduous and are shed soon after flowering
[3], but the twigs often remain green for 3 to 5 years [9,22].


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Regeneration of turpentinebroom after fire in not described in research currently available. However, since it produces new branches from the root crown, it probably can sprout from the root crown if top-killed by fire. Turpentinebroom probably also colonizes burned areas via animal-dispersed seeds. Fire frequency in the communities where turpentinebroom occurs depends on productivity and continuity of fuels. Where livestock grazing has reduced grass cover and accelerated erosion, fire frequency has decreased [17,31]. In creosotebush scrub communities, fires generally occur in those occasional years when exceptionally heavy winter rains have produced abnormally heavy stands of annuals [14]. Fires are also rare in blackbrush communities; however, these communities have been known to burn under conditions of high temperature, high wind velocity, and low relative humidity [14]. Pinyon-juniper communities historically burned every 10 to 30 years [31]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Information was not available regarding the immediate effects of fire on turpentinebroom. Turpentinebroom is probably top-killed or killed by most fires. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Turpentinebroom was present on a burn in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, within 4 years of a June fire [33]. The absolute cover value of turpentinebroom following controlled fires in a blackbrush community in southwestern Utah is as follows [7]: Absolute cover value (percent) Time elapsed since burning mean standard deviation unburned 0.9 2.3 1 year 0.5 0.8 2 years 0 0 6 years 0 0 12 years 0 0 17 years 0 0 19.5 years 11.7 3.8 37 years 15.4 11.4 The 37-year-old site was dominated by shrubs and annual grasses. Turpentinebroom had the greatest absolute cover value of any other species on this site [7]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: For several decades after burning blackbrush communities, these sites may be dominated by nonpalatable shrubs such as turpentinebroom. Therefore, prescribed burning is not recommended in blackbrush communities to improve forage for livestock [33].


SPECIES: Thamnosma montana
REFERENCES: 1. Anderson, D. J.; Perry, R. A.; Leigh, J. H. 1972. Some perspectives on shrub/environment interactions. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James; Goodin, Joe R., tech. eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: An international symposium: Proceedings; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 172-181. [3794] 2. Bates, Patricia A. 1983. Prescribed burning blackbrush for deer habitat improvement. Cal-Neva Wildlife Transactions. [Volume unknown]: 174-182. [4458] 3. Benson, Lyman; Darrow, Robert A. 1981. The trees and shrubs of the Southwestern deserts. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. [18066] 4. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 5. Bradley, W. G. 1965. A study of the blackbrush plant community of the Desert Game Range. Transactions, Desert Bighorn Council. 11: 56-61. [4380] 6. Burk, Jack H. 1977. Sonoran Desert. In: Barbour, M. G.; Major, J., eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 869-899. [3731] 7. Callison, Jim; Brotherson, Jack D.; Bowns, James E. 1985. The effects of fire on the blackbrush [Coleogyne ramosissima] community of southwestern Utah. Journal of Range Management. 38(6): 535-538. [593] 8. Cody, M. L. 1986. Spacing patterns in Mojave Desert plant communities: near-neighbor analyses. Journal of Arid Environments. 11: 199-217. [4411] 9. Comstock, J. P.; Cooper, T. A.; Ehleringer, J. R. 1988. Seasonal patterns of canopy development and carbon gain in nineteen warm desert shrub species. Oecologia. 75(3): 327-335. [22222] 10. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806] 11. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 12. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 13. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992] 14. Humphrey, Robert R. 1974. Fire in the deserts and desert grassland of North America. In: Kozlowski, T. T.; Ahlgren, C. E., eds. Fire and ecosystems. New York: Academic Press: 365-400. [14064] 15. Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock, Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085 p. [6563] 16. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 17. Leopold, Aldo. 1924. Grass, brush, timber, and fire in southern Arizona. Journal of Forestry. 22(6): 1-10. [5056] 18. Munz, Philip A. 1974. A flora of southern California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1086 p. [4924] 19. Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Pendleton, Burton K.; Harper, Kimball T. 1989. Breeding systems of woody plant species in Utah. In: Wallace, Arthur; McArthur, E. Durant; Haferkamp, Marshall R., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on shrub ecophysiology and biotechnology; 1987 June 30 - July 2; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-256. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 5-22. [5918] 20. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 21. Rowlands, Peter G. 1980. Recovery, succession, and revegetation in the Mojave Desert. In: Rowlands, Peter G., ed. The effects of disturbance on desert soils, vegetation & community processes with emphasis on off road vehicles: a critical review. Special Publication, Desert Plan Staff. Riverside, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management: 75-119. [20680] 22. Shreve, F.; Wiggins, I. L. 1964. Vegetation and flora of the Sonoran Desert. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2 vols. [21016] 23. Smith, Stanley D.; Bradney, David J. M. 1990. Mojave Desert field trip. In: McArthur, E. Durant; Romney, Evan M.; Smith, Stanley D.; Tueller, Paul T., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on cheatgrass invasion, shrub die-off, and other aspects of shrub biology and management; 1989 April 5-7; Las Vegas, NV. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-276. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 350-351. [12871] 24. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 25. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 26. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 27. Vasek, Frank C.; Barbour, Michael G. 1977. Mojave desert scrub vegetation. In: Barbour, M. G.; Major, J., eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 835-867. [3730] 28. Vasek, F. C.; Johnson, H. B.; Eslinger, D. H. 1975. Effects of pipeline construction on creosote bush scrub vegetation of the Mojave Desert. Madrono. 23(1): 1-13. [3429] 29. Vasek, Frank C.; Thorne, Robert F. 1977. Transmontane coniferous vegetation. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley & Sons: 797-832. [4265] 30. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 31. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1982. Fire ecology: United States and southern Canada. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 501 p. [2620] 32. Wells, Philip V. 1961. Succession in desert vegetation on streets of a Nevada ghost town. Science. 134: 670-671. [4959] 33. Rogers, Garry F.; Steele, Jeff. 1980. Sonoran Desert fire ecology. In: Stokes, Marvin A.; Dieterich, John H., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the fire history workshop; 1980 October 20-24; Tucson, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-81. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 15-19. [16036]

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