Flowering Season: April to July may flower throughout the year especially with decent monsoon rainfall.
Elevation: Up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m).
Habitat Preferences: Low elevation habitats; dry slopes and washes, rocky hillsides, sandy gravelly areas such as desert washes, canyons, scrub habitats.
Recorded Range: Sweetbush is found in the southwestern United States; AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT. A second variety is also native throughout Baja California and northwest Mexico. The largest concentrations of this species are found throughout most of Arizona, southeast California and southeast Nevada.
Genus Information: In North America there is 1 species and 2 accepted taxa overall for Bebbia. World wide, The Plant List includes 2 accepted species names and includes a further 2 of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the southwestern United States there is 1 species of Bebbia. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
There are 2 variety in Bebbia juncea, one in the United States;
Bebbia juncea var. aspera, Sweetbush, (AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT);
Bebbia juncea var. juncea, Sweetbush (Baja California).
Comments: Sweetbush Bebbia is a scraggly weedy looking aromatic desert shrub often ignored by casual observers and wildflower enthusiasts alike. However the plants are a haven for butterflies and moths and, upon closer inspection, one notices that the yellow and orange tubular flowers are quite striking especially under a 10 power lens.
Bebbia juncea var. aspera is the variety found in the United States while Bebbia juncea var. juncea is found in Baja California and northwest Mexico. Sweetbush is a magnet to a large number of insects.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Chuckwallas are known to relish Sweetbush Bebbia along with many other yellow flowered desert plant species. Seeds of Bebbia juncea may likely be eaten by birds and small mammals.
Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Sweetbush is a native species and important host plant for bees, numerous species of butterflies and a host of insects in the southwestern United States. In the photo above a Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon) takes nectar from a Sweetbush floret.
Long-horn Bees of the Eucerini tribe are important pollinators of several crops and wildflowers. Long-horn Bees specialize on the Asteraceae Family especially asters, daisies and sunflowers (Cosmos, Scabiosa, Coreopsis and Bidens). They are also important commercial watermelon crop pollinators in California.
The monotypic genus Bebbia (Beb'bia:) was named in honor of Michael Schuck Bebb, (1833-1895), amateur systematic botanist and a distinguished American specialist on willows in both America and Europe. Through his study and writing he became the preeminent authority on willows (Salix). The genus Bebbia was published by Edward L. Greene in 1885.
The specific epithet "juncea" (jun'cea/jun'ceum:) means rush-like, referring to the leafless stems of this plant and a referece to the genus Juncus, a riparian plant that grows in or around water.