Mar 3, 2023 - News

Arizona's unofficial state aroma is creosote

A close-up image of a flower from a creosote bush.

A creosote bush. Photo: Patrick Alexander/Wikimedia Commons

It may not rain much in the Valley, but the unique aroma we're treated to when it does is extraordinary enough that our readers overwhelmingly thought creosote should be Arizona's official state scent.

Driving the news: Inspired by New Mexico's push to make roasted chiles the state scent, we asked you what trademark smell should be ours.

  • The responses were nearly unanimous. Almost every reader said it should be the smell of creosote in the desert rain.
  • A few people suggested mesquite trees in bloom or the general smell of the desert.
  • A couple others agreed with Jessica's take that Arizona's official smell should be orange blossoms, but no one shared Jeremy's opinion it should be carne asada.

Zoom in: Creosote bushes, or Larrea tridentata, grow in the arid climate of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, making them a unique desert phenomenon.

  • Its leaves contain chemicals that deter animals. But those oils also become active when it rains, releasing the distinct fragrance we all know and love.
  • If you don't want to wait for the rare desert rains to get a whiff, there's plenty of creosote oil products, from lotions to beard oils, you can buy.

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