Common name: Creosote, Greasewood, Covillea
Scientific name: Larrea tridentata
Description: Creosote is a tough desert evergreen shrub with flexible stems, small greasy or waxy green leaves, and small yellow flowers. The leaves have a distinctive smell, especially following rain.
The Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Pima say it was the first plant created. It is the single most widely-used and frequently-employed medicinal herb in the Sonoran Desert. This plant is known as “greasewood” among the O’odham and many ranchers, but to most other people greasewood is Sarcobatus, a Mohave and Great Basin shrub. The Spanish name "gobernadora" is a political commentary - this fairly new name was invented in northern Mexico and meant to be associated with the already established name of "hediondilla" (little stinker). The Pima name is shegoi.
Uses: Widely used for medicinal purposes by Acoma, Apache, Gosiute, Hopi, Jemez, Keres, Navajo, Pima, and Southern Paiute. Also used variously for construction, as tools (such as digging sticks and handles), ceremonial/ritual purposes, and carved into knitting needles (Navajo). The Seri smoked the galls like tobacco. The sap (or lac, actually a scale insect) is also used as a sealant (Pima and Papago).
Kimberley A. Ryan, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories