Size: 1 to 3 feet (30-91 cm) tall or more (6 feet - 180 cm)
Growth Form:Shrub, subshrub; plants woody, compact, somewhat rounded although shrubby, inconspicuous when not in bloom, profuse with small yellow flower heads; stems erect or ascending, mostly hairless and aromatic (smells like turpentine); plants gland-dotted and sticky (resinous).
Leaves: Small dark green, leaves crowded, blades needle-like (filiform) to narrowly lanceolate; leaves also gland-dotted and resinous; lower stems often without leaves; leaves aromatic, smell like turpentine.
Flowering Season: August or September to October or November
Elevation: 3,000 to 6,000 feet (914-1,829 m)
Habitat Preferences: More of an upland desert species preferring desert scrub and woodlands, sunny open areas, pinyon-juniper and chaparral communities, rocky slopes, canyons, rock walls, mesa slopes and dry desert washes.
Recorded Range: Turpentine Bush is found in the Southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX and UT. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico (Chihuahua and Coahuila). In Arizona Turpentine Bush occurs in the central, southern and western parts of the state.
North America species range map for Turpentine Bush, Ericameria laricifolia:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Click image for full size map
Genus Information: In North America there are 33 species and 33 accepted taxa overall for Ericameria. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 39 accepted species names and a further 244 of infraspecific rank for the genus.
As a whole, the members of the genus Ericameria are generally referred to as Goldenbush, Turpentine Bush, Rabbitbrush and Rabbitbush and Rabbitbrush. They were all formerly described as Aplopappus, Haplopappus or Chrysothamnus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 9 species of Ericameria, California has 22 species, Nevada has 15 species, New Mexico has 4 species, Texas has 2 species, Utah has 13 species. Hybrids exist. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
Comments: One of the more common plants found in Arizona above 3,000 feet (914 m) that blooms showy bright yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. It grows well in arid environments and dry alkaline soil and is often used in desert landscapes to achieve a more natural look. Birds and insects readily feed on Turpentine Bush and other species of Ericameria.
The genus Ericameria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly species including those from the genus Schinia. Also,Turpentine plants are browsed by rabbits. Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.
The genus Ericameria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly species including those from the genus Schinia. Also, Ericameria laricifolia flowers and plants may be visited by native bees, other butterflies and/or insects in search of food, nectar or cover.
The genus Ericameria (Ericamer'ia:) is from the Greek Erica (Ereika), “heath,” and meris or meros for “division or part,” referring to the heath-like leaves.