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The common name "brittlebush" comes from the brittleness of its stems. Other names include hierba del vaso (Spanish) and cotx (Seri). Another Spanish name for it is incienso because the dried sap was burned by early Spanish missions in the New World as incense.
E. farinosa can be found in a variety of habitats from dry, gravelly slopes to open, sandy washes up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft). It requires a very sunny position in a deep very well-drained soil. It does well in cultivation often being used for border, erosion control, ground cover and massing and recently has spread dramatically in areas not natural to its distribution in large part because Caltrans has begun to use it in hydroseeding.
Toothbrush: Oldtime cowboys used brittlebush stem as a fine toothbrush.
Medicinal: Seri use brittlebush to treat toothache; the bark is removed, the branch heated in ashes, and then placed in the mouth to "harden" a loose tooth. The Cahuilla used brittlebush to treat toothaches as well, and used it as a chest pain reliever by heating the gum and applying it to the chest.
Waterproofing: It has been used to waterproof containers.
Varnish: It has been melted then used as a varnish.
^Gray, Reed; Bonner, James (19 March 1948). "Structure Determination and Synthesis of a Plant Growth Inhibitor, 3-Acetyl-6-methoxybenzaldehyde, Found in the Leaves of Encelia Farinosa". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 70 (3): 1249-1253. doi:10.1021/ja01183a114. PMID18909201.
^Bohm, Bruce A. (2009). The Geography of Phytochemical Races. Dordrecht: Springer. p. 112. ISBN9781402090523.
^Dunmire, William W. (2004). Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN978-0-292-70564-7.