Arizona is known for its deserts, creepy-crawlies, and massive Saguaros, but the creosote bush is a powerful desert plant that might be new to you! Creosote is the most drought-tolerant plant in North America. Found throughout the southwestern deserts of Arizona, Texas, and Chihuahua, it can live for at least two years with no water at all, *GASP* retaining any amounts it gets in its vast root system. It helps itself by shedding its leaves or branches but is usually an evergreen bush!
How amazing, to be just like the creosote bush- evergreen all year long no matter the weather.
Creosote, not surprisingly, comes with a host of medicinal and energetic properties too. Keep scrolling for five ways to incorporate this magical plant into your practice.
Place creosote on your altar or in a sacred space to represent:
- Ancestral connections
The most researched creosote bush is called “King Clone” located near Victorville, California. It is estimated at 11,700 years old, and some scientists consider this to be the oldest living thing on earth!
Medicinal Properties & Practices
Indigenous people used creosote bush for fixing arrow points and mending pottery, as well as for ancestral rituals and connections. Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan wrote the book Gathering the Desert. He describes creosote bush as nature’s drugstore. In his research, Nabhan found that indigenous people have also used creosote bush for the treatment of many conditions and diseases:
- colds & postnatal drips
- chest infections or lung congestion
- PMS cramps
- swollen limbs due to poor circulation
- dandruff & body odor
Can you think of a more powerful plant? Talk about magical herbalism!
DIY Healing Salve
Creosote has incredible properties that make it wonderful to use for skin support and other areas of the body. It can be used both internally and topically. When used as a salve applied directly to the skin, it can help heal cuts, burns, scrapes, and even dry or eczema-prone areas.
- Antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory
- Used as an anti-viral medicine
- Native Americans used it to treat cancer for containing a potent anti-tumor agent called NDGA. Recent studies around this are encouraging, but not entirely conclusive.
For the salve you’ll need:
- 1 cup of dry creosote leaves
- 1.5 cups of olive oil (or any carrier oil)
- Small glass jar with lid
Add 1 cup of dry leaves to a mason jar and top with 1.5 cups of olive oil. Place inside crockpot, adding enough water to come within 2 inches of the top of the jar. Set on low for 8-10 hours checking frequently. When it is done, you can take a tea strainer or cheesecloth to drain all the oil from the leaves into a new (and smaller) glass jar. Let it cool on your counter for a few hours and refrigerate afterward. You can dip your fingers or take a small spoon to scoop up some oil for your needs. Your salve is ready for immediate use!
To Smudge With The Desert
Smudging with creosote is all about intention. You can easily incorporate it into your life for energy cleansing, spell work, and rituals. It is also a great substitute for palo santo or white sage- plants that are more and more controversial in terms of ethical sourcing as their popularity grows.
Experimenting with different plants like creosote will open your perspective towards other realms of herbs and cleansing work.
You do not have to burn it to indulge in its benefits; you can hang it in your shower for the most amazing scent- petrichor! Okay, that’s just a fancy word for the smell of rain. Still, if you’ve never been to southern Arizona during monsoon season, you have not smelled the most amazing and positively intoxicating scent of desert rain. Bring it to your home with creosote!
And while you’re at it, if you decide to smudge with it, get rid of those mosquitos as another of creosote’s uses are for repelling bugs.
Creating different combinations of herbs for smudging will add power to your cleansing efforts. For example, adding lavender to creosote creates a harmonious partnership of optimism and peace. It can be done with roses to add self-esteem, love, and healing. The possibilities are vast with the world of herbs, don’t be afraid to experiment and find what you love best and what resonates with your energy. Trust your intuition!
As always, with coming across new herbs, be sure you are doing a patch test in case any reactions occur and discontinue burning if you experience any undesirable effects. You can hang your creosote wand in your bathroom or use it as an altar tool instead. Purchase handcrafted creosote and lavender smoke wands here, and learn more about Lulu and her business, Herbonyx, here.
About Lulu Tineo
Lulu is an herbal artist based in Tucson, AZ, and founder of her sage free smudge wand company, Herbonyx. She loves working with herbal remedies, crystals, and all things witchy. All of the creosote used in Lulu's wands is harvested by hand in her backyard. Follow Lulu on Instagram at @herbonyx to learn more about her and her magical offerings!