Common names include Antelope Brush, Antelope Bitterbrush, Buckbrush, Quinine Brush, Deerbrush, Blackbrush, and Greasewood.
Bitterbrush is native to the mountainous areas of the U.S. and in Nevada, dominates many of the state's low lying valleys. This shrub is almost always in the accompaniment of the Great Basin Sagebrush. As its name implies, Bitterbrush is un-palatable to wildlife thereby allowing it dominate and wherever it grows. It grows on arid mountainsides and typical sagebrush steppe and does much better when it grows on sloping terrain at lower elevations from 3,700 - 7,000 feet. Though they might seem similar, take a closer look!
Great Basin Sagebrush and Bitterbrush are easily identifiable by way of a few characteristic differences. The Bitterbrush is dark green to blackish in appearance, has slender three to five-lobed leaves, and in the fall, clusters upon clusters of pale yellow flowers. Compare this with the Sagebrush's overall gray-green appearance and vibrant yellow blooming flowers.
Bitterbrush had many medicinal uses for the Indians. A tea could be made from either the bark or the leaves of the plant. It was found to be a restorative and soothing drink for many ailments, including coughs. The Shoshone used the bark to grind into a powder and make into a poultice, which was used for treating cuts and sores. It was also made into a liquid wash for insect bites, rashes, and skin irritations. The outer seed coat could be used to produce a purple dye used to stain items made of wood, and arrows could be made from the wood of the bitterbrush.