Mexican Cliffrose in the Landscape


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    Mexican Cliffrose in the Landscape


    Heidi Kratsch, Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
    Graham Hunter, Research Associate, Center for Water Efficient Landscaping

          December 2008 | HG/Native Plants/2008/01pr

    Purshia mexicana

    Mexican cliffrose

    Mexican cliffrose shrubDescription: Mexican cliffrose is the southern cousin of Purshia tridentata
    (antelope bitterbrush) but is taller with pleasantly fragrant evergreen foliage
    and a gnarled form that can grow to six feet tall.

    The creamy white to pale yellow honey-scented flowers that cover the plant in late spring give way to long feathery seedheads in early to mid summer. The small dark green, deeply lobed leaves that cover the branches provide a nice contrast to the five-petaled, yellow-centered flowers.

    Mexican cliffrose occurs throughout the southern regions of the Intermountain West and has great potential for use in low-water landscapes.



    Cultural Requirements

    Native habitat                          Open slopes and rocky areas
    Soil Well drained, tolerates low fertility, prefers coarse, gravelly soil 
    Cold tolerance USDA Zones 4-7
    Drought tolerance High; can become unruly when over-watered
    Salt tolerance Low
    Sun / shade tolerance Full sun
    Transplanting Moderately easy
    Propagation From seed
    Maintenance Prune old and stray branches in late spring after bloom; avoid overhead watering
    Problems Browsed by deer; does not tolerate water on its foliage

    Landscape Value:

    Use in the Landscape            Background, hedge, naturalized areas
    Foliage Evergreen
    Inflorescence Showy
    Color chart showing bloom times for cliffrose
    Fruit (seedheads) Feathery appearance when mature
    Form Upright; vase-shaped when young to irregular with age
    Texture Coarse
    Ultimate size 6 feet in a landscape setting
    Rate of growth Slow
    Plant community Parkland, pinyon-juniper, mountain mahogany, shrub steppe, cool desert shrub
    Availability Utah’s Choice selection (visit
    for more information)
    Cultivars None of ornamental value


    To start seed indoors soak seed in hydrogen peroxide for up to 24 hours. Rinse well. Cold, moist stratify for 60
    days (not too moist or seed will rot). Sow into container to a depth of ½ inch. To start outdoors, sow seed in the
    fall and cover with ½ inch soil. Water in, and look for germination in spring.

    Additional Photos

    yellow cliffrose flowers up closePhoto credits: Graham Hunter
    cliffrose shrub in bloom with yellow flowers


    Cerny, Teresa A.; Rupp, Larry A.; Reid, Chad R.; and Kuhns, Michael R., "Selection and Culture of Landscape Plants in Utah - A Guide for Southwestern and Central Utah" (2002). All Archived Publications. Paper 727.

    Mee, W., J. Barnes, R. Kjelgren, R. Sutton, T. Cerny, and C. Johnson. 2003.
    Waterwise: Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes. Utah State University Press, Logan, UT 
    (Currently published by University Press of Colorado)

    USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. Plants database

    *The above references are the most recent (Dec 2020). The references in the pdf version of this document are out of date

    This fact sheet belongs to a series of fact sheets about Intermountain West native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses called “Native Plants in the Landscape.” 
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