coyote bush, mulefat
A shrub, one of the first woody plants to advance into idle cleared land, coyote bush (or brush) is a familiar native that can survive on salty beaches or in rock-hard adobe through the rainless summer and produce a heavy crop of fluffy white seeds in fall when the rains come. It is then a conspicuous sight on chaparral slopes and roadsides.
Examination will reveal that there are two sorts of plant, male and female. For horticultural use a prostrate ground cover is available; a male clone is chosen. The plants on campus all appear to be wild, and subject to frequent removal. Look on the margins of cleared land, for example in the Junipero Serra greenbelt, southeast of the intersection with Stanford Avenue. The name mulefat refers to the browsing habits of deer. Kidneywort is another name. By the late 1800s, coyote bush, first described by the French botanist Alphonse de Candolle, was known around the temperate world as an ornamental plant.
B. pilularis can be observed at Jasper Ridge colonizing grassland. Baccharis douglasii (marsh baccharis) of wetter habitats is found at Jasper Ridge on trails 1, 12 and Leonard’s Bridge.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the Jasper Ridge notes.