a-plant-a-day-6

Cheesebush or burrobush: Ambrosia salsola, Asteraceae (sunflower family)

This one is all over, and seemingly useless. And maybe even a bit nefarious, since it's probably responsible for your current allergy situation, being a ragweed that can produce over a million pollen grains a day. However, I'd like to think about the positives with this ubiquitous, wind-pollinated plant, which serves as a nurse plant to seedlings that need a little shelter in their early stages. White bursage (ambrosia dumosa, a close relative) helps creosote set root, and some species of cacti rely on this genus for protection from the unrelenting sun, and if successfully cared for, will eventually expunge the roots of the nasty ragweed and employ eminent domain.

The name cheesebush is derived from its seemingly "fetid odor" emanating from the thin, needle-like leaves. I think it's kind of pleasant, and have been wanting to cook with it for a while. I've read accounts that similar species of ambrosia (which means food for the gods, as a counter argument to its aroma) can be infused as a tea, and the seeds can be harvested for food. In other areas of the US, ragweed has been reported as a nourishing green in survival situations....so I might give it a try this week.