Hop Bush

Dodonaea viscosa

Dodonaea viscosa pen & ink illustration by Michael Plagens

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SHRUB: Evergreen, leafy shrub 2 to 4 m tall.

LEAVES: Shiny, dark green, resinous leaves are lance-shaped.

FRUIT: Large, conspicuous, papery-winged fruits are tinged orange and yellow appear by April or May.

RANGE: Common above 900 m especially in the Upper Sonoran Scrub to oak-chaparral transition. Hop Bush is an attractive evergreen for landscapes that can be attractively sculptured by pruning. With adequate water it can survive in places like Phoenix and Tucson. It is found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world.


FLOWERS: clusters of small greenish flowers.

The leaves are eaten by a species of geometer (inchworm) shown at lower right. When full grown the caterpillar moves to the ground and crawls under leaf litter. There it forms a pupa without a cocoon, an immobile resting stage before emergence as a night flying moth. As with most geometers the caterpillar is exquisitely camouflaged. The Canyon Towhee (at top of illustration) occupies the same habitat as hop bush. It forages on the ground by kicking leaves away from the soil surface, thus exposing among other things moth pupae to eat.

The hibernacula of whiteflies can also be found; a pinhead sized white spot with a black center (on leaf, lower left corner of drawing). When conditions are right a winged whitefly may emerge. There are many difficult to distinguish species of whiteflies.

Sapindaceae -- Soapberry Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 16 Sept. 2006,
updated 6 Jan. 2009.