This is a large shrub, very common in chaparral. It has clusters of small, narrow, pointed leaves (the “fascicles” which give the plant its scientific name). The masses of tiny white flowers produce a spectacular display in early summer. Like some other chaparral plants, Chamise is “allelopathic”, i.e. it produces a toxin that inhibits the growth of other plants in the vicinity. This explains the lack of other plants in the shade of chamise.
Like certain Manzanitas, Chamise develops a burl (although invisible because underground). A burl is a repository of dormant buds, that are stimulated by fire. In this way, the plant may resprout, even if the fire destroyed all the above- ground parts. Another result of a severe fire is that the heat may vaporize the allelopathic toxins. This explains how it is possible for certain “fire- following” herbaceous plants to flourish and put on a spectacular display for a few years afterwards. Photo #3 by CJH.