It has evolved associations with more than 60 species of insects, including 22 species of bees that feed only on its flowers. ” (Jonathan DuHamel). When rains do come, the shallow, wide spread roots quickly take in water from the surrounding soil. As a child of the 1970s, I always deeply loved the smell of the garden fences, freshly painted with creosote. These tar-fog droplets often will condense and collect on the cooler interior walls of both the fireplace and chimney flue system. “The desert is … For reference, the smokiest perfumes I already have are Bulgari Black, Shalimar (extrait) and Chergui. Debris. The wrinkled leaves quickly rehydrate and turn bright green. It is from a combination of  this and dust that has settled on its branches between storms that allows creosote bush to pick up 9 times as much phosphorus and 16 times as much nitrogen than is in regular rainwater. To many of us, it smells like home. A: Chimney smells stink up indoor air when the air pressure is lower indoors than out. A. Desert creosote bushes provide shelter and shade for crickets, grasshoppers and other desert insects. This scenario fits with a traditional open fireplace. The logs on the fire have plenty of air during the combustion p… Creosote is known as a blood cleanser, an antioxidant, antiviral and antibiotic agent, and is used for infections, skin problems, and auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, and may help to lower blood cholesterol. Especially in a house that was built to be fairly airtight, this can happen when a … Soot is black and powdery and is mostly made of amorphous carbon. A few months ago, I came across a basket of small tins of Creosote Bush Salve at The Get Go grocery in Marfa and opened one up. Creosote is the name used for a variety of products that are mixtures of many chemicals. First stage creosote is mostly ashy soot. (Harold DeLisle, PhD). During this period this hardy invader shrub rapidly colonized  after unknown long distance carriers (possibly migrating plovers) brought the seeds north from Argentina. California King Clone creosote circle may be as old as 11,700 years. A good cleaning will help but usually won't solve the problem completely. It has commonly been used as a wood preservative protecting against wood-destroying insects and wood-rotting fungi. “The branches of the plant will live several centuries and die out, but the root crown produces new branches in a ring around the original plant. AIM - Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring, Interactive Map of ESD-Based Recovery Classes, Obtain/create spatial data linking soil component, State codes via generalized ecological sites, Database for Inventory, Monitoring & Assessment (DIMA), USDA Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change, Research Authorization & Documentation Forms, Book: Structure and Function of a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem, Special Issue: Ecological Sites for Landscape Management, Special Issue: Shifting Paradigms in Drylands, Centennial Special Issue: Big Science Questions, Book: Long Term Trends in Ecological Systems, Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, USDA-ARS Southwestern Cotton Ginning Research Lab, “5 things you didn’t know about Ocotillo”, grasses and wildflowers of the Chihuahuan Desert, Chemical Structure of Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, 5 Things You Need To Know About How We’re Using Modern Technology To Understand Our Changing Environment, 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Creosote Bush, Helping to Solve Food Scarcity: an App Brings Expertise to the World’s Farmers, New Methods of Identifying Climate Change in Desert Southwest ‘Unearthed’, Goats Helping An Ecosystem, One Munch At A Time, Bird of the Week: Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Bird of the Week: Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys), Fall Flowering Plants in the Chihuahuan Desert, Understanding What Causes Desertification, Bird of the Week: Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Bird of the Week: Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), Bird of the Week: Pyrrhuloxia or Desert Cardinal (Cardinalis sinuatus), Bird of the Week: Rock Dove (Columba livia), Bird of the Week: House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), Bird of the Week: Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). He also spoke of its strong purgative affects when used for cleansing. If there is water in the chimney, it can cause an unpleasant musty odor. Because of this, creosote bush’s natural habitat is in areas where grass has a difficult time growing. Softer woods like birch, pine, and spruce are less dense, so they burn out faster. Relatively high temperatures in the chimney flue. Many of these bushes may outlive our grandchildren and survive droughts that occur only once in a thousand years. The beetles look like walking seeds. It is currently under research as a chemotherapeutic agent for cancer, and shows promise. Near Lucerne Valley, “King Clone” has an average diameter of 45 feet! Creosote is a black or dark brown flammable tar produced by wood smoke. Wild donkey by creosote in bottom of Grand Canyon. There was a storm the other day, just a little thunder, wind, and rain here, but farther to the north, it was a storm. Relatively good wood combustion and 2. Since the plant photosynthesizes only in the mornings when humidity is highest, it needs to maximize the amount of sunlight it receives during that time. Creosote build up like this is a major cause of fireplace odors. So the creosote bush only opens its stomata in the mornings when the humidity is relatively high and the loss of water is the lowest. This is a microbial community of algae, fungi, and bacteria that in exchange for a place to live, gives the plant nutrients as rainwater flows over it and into the soil. “In a few areas of the Mojave Desert clonal creosote rings have been found that are several yards in diameter. Creosote is a medicinal plant and bees’ partner. Wood creosotes are derived from the resin from leaves of the creosote bush (Larrea, referred to herein as creosote bush resin) and beechwood (Fagus, referred to herein as beechwood creosote). Soot and creosote can build up on the inside of the chimney or flue and leave a lingering smell coming your fireplace or stove. Creosote comes from wood smoke. The excess moisture that is burnt off from wet wood can also line the insides of your chimney or flue and cause a musty smell. On many creosote bushes you will see black areas on some branches. Galls may form by the activity of the creosote gall midge. The Apaches chewed and swallowed a small piece of creosote branch to cure diarrhea. Submitted by Johnny Ramirez on Thu, 2015-04-30 16:41. Here’s what you’ll find in this plant: Pinene – A compound found in pines; Limonene – Citrus Coal tars are by-products of the carbonization of coal to produce coke or natural gas. Mabry, T.J.; Hunziker, J.H. Rain is rare in the desert, and any plant has to be able to get as much of it as it can while losing as little of it as possible. It is a dark, flammable tar that is absorbed by the masonry inside your chimney. Leaves, small branches and other kinds of debris can collect on top of the chimney. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. Folk medicine practitioners have used creosote for centuries as a salve or ointment, especially as an antiseptic and pain reliever. The Creosote Bush Smells Like Rain— What Is Meth? It is non-buoyant in water, with a specific gravity of 1.037 to 1.087, retains fluidity at a very low temperature, and boils at 205-225 °C. If you have a small water smoker there probably isn't a lot you can do to hold in smoke or control how much gets away. Fortunately, you can remove this smell from your home. They also burn longer. A fresh, earthy aroma wafted out. Along … While the creosote bush is inedible to most browsing animals, some small mammals such as the black-tailed jackrabbit consume the seeds and some species of rats eat the twigs. A cone shape allows creosote bush to channel rain down its stems so that the water goes deeper into the soil and the roots have more time to absorb it. Original creosote is a complex mixture of coal tar derivatives. Does anyone happen to know of a scent that reminds them strongly of this smell? The more severe the creosote buildup is … The creosote remover is designed to work on various kinds of chimneys, these range from synthetic material, metal, to … Like petrol, it is a mixture of hundreds of distinct chemicals rather than one specific chemical. What Does Creosote Smell Like? “Rain volatilizes that waxy coating which then produces a distinct, camphor-like odor which some desert dwellers call the smell of rain. The Rutland Dry Creosote Remover is formulated to deeply penetrate thick, sticky, tar-like creosotes and chemically transforms it into an ash-like powder that can be swept off like dust. It is so good at making efficient use of its limited resources that it will slowly overtake ecosystems like grasslands and turn them into creosote shrubland. During drought, the wax covered leaves shrivel but do not die. The smell may remain even after you've removed dangerous buildup from your chimney. Unpublished Book Chapter. Only our busy minds take us away from this direct knowing. • Verde Valley Archaeology Center• Astronomers of Verde Valley• Grand Canyon Association, journeys@crossingworlds.comToll free: 1-800-350-2693(initial call)PHONE: + 1 (928) 282-0846, ©2019 BY CROSSING WORLDS JOURNEYS & RETREATS  •  Designed by Sandra Cosentino and The Myss Miranda Agency, Creosote: Ancient Desert Shrub That Smells Like Rain, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), « Captivated by the Spell of the Southwest, Hopi Cycle of the Year and Visitor Etiquette », See our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. You may have seen creosote sweeping logs on the shelves at big-box stores and wondered if they really work. This musky smell comes from a coating on the Creosote’s leaves that helps it preserve water. Also check out some of our YouTube videos on “grasses and wildflowers of the Chihuahuan Desert.”. This type of creosote is formed as a result of the combination of: 1. There is enough moisture in your breath to volatilize the wax. Yellow flowers bloom followed by fuzzy little seeds. It can also grow into a hemisphere, an upside down bowl shape that allows leaf litter and other organic material to collect beneath its branches. Creosote bush grows slowly, and if grassland that it grows in catches fire when it is still small, it will die off while the grass grows back. That magical fragrance comes courtesy of larrea tridenta, or the creosote plant, which grows only in the arid Southwest areas of … This is NOT to be confused with the creosote that is used for wood preservation, which is a petroleum product distilled from tar. Whitford, Walt (2014) The Remarkable Creosote. Creosote Bush Salve became a bona fide business in 2012. The next, the desert can smell just like rain.” (quote above by Gary Nabhan from The Desert Smells Like Rain). The whole mix of tar and creosote and soot is commonly called creosote. Today creosote, Larrea tridentata, is a dominant or co-dominant member of most plant communities in the Mohave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts. If the prevailing wind is especially strong, only the clones downwind of the parent plant will survive, forming a line of plants instead of an expanding ring.”. And a tea made from the leaves and sweetened with a little honey was said to greatly relieve kidney pain. Eliminating Creosote . Submitted by leslie walker (not verified) on Sun, 2015-05-17 18:34, Contact Us   |   Agricultural Research Service   |   ARS News and Information   |   Statements and Disclaimers   |   Freedom of Information Act. These bees can lay in larval form near the shrubs also waiting for the rain to bring them to life. If discussing soot resulting from burning oil, or even gas, this is just soot and it’s just called soot. Even hardy creosote would not have been able to come directly north across the wet tropical forest of Central America. The flowers are up to 25 mm (0.98 in) in diameter, with five yellow petals. As the sun gets higher and the air drier, it will close its stomata and shut down its photosynthesis. This creosote is the easiest to remove because a chimney professional’s chimney brush can typically get the job done. A dirty, crusted smoker will help produce creosote. It is common throughout Western North America, and it’s becoming even more common. Moisture. There are lots of oils in the plant that make up this smell. Larger animals, including desert tortoises, kangaroo rats, lizards and desert fox make their beds under the creosote bush or take refuge from predators and hot daytime temperatures in the plant’s shade. If your chimney smells like asphalt or bad barbecue, then you have creosote and soot build-up. Dense hardwoods like maple and oak have a higher energy content and so release more heat. Using radiocarbon dating and known growth rates of creosote, scientists have estimated the age of “King Clone” as 11,700 years. And in the desert it is always water, not sunlight that limits plant growth. This creates an island of fertility that allows other plants and animals to live underneath, creating a rich soil that is full of nutrients for the creosote bush. What lessons do they have for us to thrive and adapt to change? Not only is removal of creosote important to keep your chimney in good working condition, but the buildup of creosote can cause your fireplace to smell like asphalt or barbeque gone bad. At the end of the last Ice Age, about 11,000 years ago,  as the climate became warmer and drier, the junipers who used to inhabit the lower regions of the Southwest retreated to the nearby mountains, and creosote appeared on the scene. This practice ended in the 70s when the FDA discontinued its use in food, but recent research on the chemical has found some promise in its ability to reduce cancerous tumors in animals. Creosote, which smells much like mothballs, is a chemical concoction that has been widely used as a preservative to treat pier pilings, railroad ties, utility poles, and other wood that sometimes winds up in the construction of a home or office building. Lone creosote invader in the sands of Death Valley helps us imagine the adaptation over many millennia. While this may seem like not using the sunlight is wasted potential, it is in fact a smart move since it saves water. ; Diffo, D.R., Jr. (1977) Creosote Bush: Biology and Chemistry of Larrea in New World Deserts. Waxy coating on creosote leaves prevents water loss and protects the plant from being eaten by most mammals and insects. Creosote is a chemical by-product that forms when wood, coal or creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata) are burned under high heat. Creosote, the desert shrub, resin screens the leaves against ultraviolet radiation, reduces water loss, and poisons or repels microbes and most plant-eating animals. Creosote is from smoke that contains droplets of unburned carbon and is often referred to as tar-fog. Wood-tar creosote is a colourless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor, produces a sooty flame when burned, and has a burned taste. Creosote, the filmy residue deposited in a chimney by burning wood, is the bane of many fireplaces and a big reason a wood-burning fireplace needs to be inspected each year, since creosote deposits can increase fire risks. You can often experience the odor by cupping some leaves in your hands and blowing on them. Even in our urban cocoons, we are woven within complex ecosystems exquisitely adapted to our local soils, light, moisture and temperatures. Creosote: Ancient Desert Shrub That Smells Like Rain Creosote is a hardy Pleistocene invader with rain-volatilized, aromatic leaves. The smell of creosote after a good rain is the result of many volatile oils, but mostly terpene (a compound found in pines), limonene (citrus), camphor (pines and rosemary), methanol (wood alcohol), and 2-undecanone (spices). If you want to know more about how plants thrive in the desert, check out “5 things you didn’t know about Ocotillo”. His ancestral people knew the inherit purifying qualities of this plant on both the physical and spiritual levels. Until we take time to really look, how little we know of the intricate lives of the plant and animal beings that surround us. Creosote also emits a strong smell that many associate with a wood-burning fire. The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of wood burning. It may also smell like acetone, which is found in nail polish remover, or have a sulfur smell similar to rotten eggs. One answer to two questions, this time. Video of the Day Very interesting. On a cellular level we are in vibration with these qualities of place in every moment. The best way to … What Does a Creosote Bush Smell Like? If you are familiar with the Chihuahuan Desert, you will recognize the creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) as ubiquitous. But practices like fire suppression, or overgrazing that limits how much fuel there is for fire, allows the creosote bush to take over. One minute you will be smelling dust. It is during this time that creosote bush undergoes photosynthesis, and shuts it down when the sun rises higher. Institute of Ecology. Many West Texans recognize the distinctive smell of creosote and associate it with rain. Creosote bush has a unique set of evolutionary adaptations that allows it to outcompete many other plants in its ecosystems, given the right opportunities. The whole plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote, from which the common name derives. When I went outside the next morning it smelled like creosote. The creosote bush thrives in the desert. Creosote has one weakness though, fire. These mysterious looking growth rings then become mounded up with sand in the center. To eliminate creosote you need to start with a clean smoker. What does creosote plant look like? The problem all plants face is that they must “breathe” in carbon dioxide through openings on the underside of their leaves called stomata, but doing so means they lose water. The drug causes a host of troubling effects, including extreme agitation, aggression and insomnia. A special thanks to Walt Whitford for lending his expertise to this blog. Any plant you see growing is there because it is the successful result of millions of years of evolution. Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed. The resinous leaf nodes were used to soothe bruises and wounds. It might also suggest that the wood you're burning is not sufficiently seasoned and has a high moisture content. When it was discovered in the 1930s, people would extract it from the plant and use it to keep food from spoiling. A Tohono O’odam friend of mine told me he prized creosote leaves as an incense to burn for ceremony. Creosote has a tar-like smell, and can be likened to the smell of freshly laid asphalt. This is also why …. Look for the little beetles that show up when the creosote bush has the fuzzy seeds. Creosote treated joists in crawlspace Creosote smell in basements and crawl spaces: Many seaside/waterfront homes built in the early 1900s to the 1980s were built using floor joists, beams, posts and sheathing that were treated with creosote, a tar like substance (think of telephone poles) to prevent termite infestations and wood rot. Some of these common residents have been here continuously since the last ice age.”  Harold DeLisle, PhD. So whether you see the creosote bush as just another desert plant or find its aroma intriguing in the rain, we can all respect its tenacity, its ability to thrive where few of its peers can. These desert peoples had a living relationship with this extreme environment which helped them thrive. It has encountered and adapted to more environmental challenges than you could ever imagine. Creosote and Soot. More precisely, it smelled like waking up at the hotel I used to manage in Desert Hot Springs, where creosote… With time, this ring expands outward as old branches die and new branches take their place, and eventually become separate bushes which are clones of the original seed. 1-800-350-2693 (for initial call only)  | Office:  928-282-0846, “The desert is unpredictable, enigmatic. As with a smoke smell, a smell of soot from your woodburner could indicate a need to have your chimney swept. Other tribes made a strong tea from the dried leaves to treat the common cold. The plants of the Chihuahuan Desert where The Jornada Experimental Range is located, and where we do our research, are incredibly good at surviving a harsh desert environment. 22 species of bees feed only on creosote flowers. Then you need to make sure that you have proper airflow. Tamarack produces a nice long burn, gives off very little creosote to build up in your chimney, and leaves very fine ash to clean out and not much of it. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid is a powerful antioxidant that the creosote bush produces for protection. The odor goes right down the chimney and into the house because high air pressure outside forces air down the chimney, bringing soot, creosote… If your chimney smells like ——– Then it most likely is from… Bad Barbeque/Asphalt ————- Creosote build up Musty Odor ————————– Water sitting in your smoke chamber Rot and Decomposition ———— Fallen leaves combining with damp soot and rotting in the chimney The term is almost exclusively used when talking about burning wood. People like to describe it as smelling like rain! Unfortunately, creosote has an aroma that is very persistent, so use of creosote is limited to a few outdoor sites. These nutrients are rare in the desert and give the plant a huge leg up over its competition. In its purest form it … If by chance you have creosote-coated wood in a place where the smell or the creosote itself is a problem, you may prefer to resolve the problem without removing the wood. However, in 2003, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) changed the law so […] Its branches and leaves grow in a shape meant to capture as much morning sunlight as possible. What does creosote smell like? The second and most common culprit is creosote. Creosote, a buildup of the byproducts of combustion, can cause odor in your chimney which can permeate through your entire home. Long Draw Fire Aftermath By Jeff Clark, Oregon BLM Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0, Creosote Flowers "Resinous" By Anne Reeves Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0, Chemical Structure of Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid By Edgar181. The smell of creosote after a good rain is the result of many volatile oils, but mostly terpene (a compound found in pines), limonene (citrus), camphor (pines and rosemary), methanol (wood alcohol), and 2-undecanone (spices). This becomes a big problem when it is especially hot and dry as it always is during the day in the desert. Swallowed a small piece of creosote and associate it with rain activity of the Chihuahuan desert you! Lots of oils in the desert and give the plant that make up this smell plant on both fireplace! Protects the plant and use it to keep food from spoiling have plenty of air the! Up when the humidity is high and the air pressure is lower indoors than.... Acid is a complex mixture of hundreds of distinct chemicals rather than one specific chemical the common derives. Strong purgative affects when used for wood preservation, which is a major cause of fireplace.. Not to be fairly airtight, this can happen when a … and. 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