Summary of chamise and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: iipshii

Chamise (Adenostoma fasiculatum)


Chamise is a flowering shrub that is native to Oregon, Nevada, California and northern Baja. The chamise is arguably one of the most widespread plants within the chaparral plant community. This shrub is extremely drought tolerant. It is also highly adaptable to various soil types. Like other successful plants in the chaparral, chamise recovers very quickly after wildfires.

The Kumeyaay use chamise to make medicine. This shrub also provides raw material for building shelters. The green branches were heated and straightened out and then whittled to produce tools and shelter material.

The charcoal from a chamise fire was applied to tattoos. Branches were used as arrow foreshafts.

When it is time to roast agave, the chamise shrub is used as a fuel source.