Some species may have annual above ground growth, and its habit is erect or climbing. Leaves are alternate. The flowers are aggregated to form an inflorescence, this may be white or lilac and purple shades of pink.
The genus was first described by James Smith in 1798. The first species to be described, Sowerbaea juncea Andrews (1800), was in the Botanists Repository, with a 1798 illustration of a specimen growing in England. The seeds of the species were cultivated to England, sometime shortly after the founding of the colony in New South Wales. Smith also described the species in the same year as Andrews, the nomination was superfluous.
The genus is named after a botanical illustrator, James Sowerby.