Whitebrush, Beebush , Beebrush

Aloysia gratissima (Gill. & Hook.) Troncoso

Verbenaceae (Vervain family)


Whitebrush is an aromatic shrub of the Vervain family. It reaches 3 to 10 feet tall. Also called beebush, this shrub may grow as a single plant or in large, dense thickets.

The leaves are narrow, small, pointed, pale beneath and ΒΌ to 1 inch long. On the flowering branches, the leaves are smaller and smooth-edged; those on other branches are larger and toothed. The tiny flowers vary from white to blue.

Whitebrush is poisonous to horses, mules and burros but provides fair browse for wildlife.


Whitebrush is frequent to abundant in Central, West and South Texas. It grows northwest into New Mexico and south into Mexico. In far West Texas, this plant is usually restricted to draws receiving extra runoff moisture and having deep soils.

Toxic Agent

Horses, mules and burros are suspected to have been poisoned by this plant. The toxin, although unidentified, is known to be watersoluble.

Signs of Livestock Ingestion

Signs of poisoning appear to be nervous in nature and include general weight loss. Feeding experiments conducted by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station documented these signs in horses: weakness, incoordination, and prostration.

These conditions developed in sequence beginning about a month and a half after access to whitebrush, ending in death about a week after appearance of definite nervous signs.