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Saltbush, Groundsel tree, Sea-myrtle
Baccharis halimifolia

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. It can also be used as an accent shrub in moist sunny areas. It is also useful in buffer plantings.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A common and widespread species in forest edges and in thickets. It can be aggressive when planted, spreading readily from seed, so caution is advisable.

Availability: Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida.

Description: Medium erect shrub or rarely a small tree with a narrow, conical crown. Trunks short, to 5 inches in diameter. Leaves 1/2 to 3 inches long, firm. Bark dark brown with long shallow ridges.

Dimensions: Typically 5-10 feet in height; sometimes taller. Taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Fast to moderate.

Range: Eastern and southeastern United States south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies. Common throughout most of its range. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Moist forest edges and thickets; also disturbed sites.

Soils: Moist to occasionally wet, well-drained to moderately well-drained, sandy, limestone, or organic soils, with or without humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without significant injury.

Drought Tolerance: Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: White.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy heads. Fragrant. Dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants.

Flowering Season: Fall-winter.

Fruit: Inconspicuous achene, but fruiting masses can be semi-showy.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides some food and significant cover for wildlife. May be a nectar plant for monarch (Danaus plexippus) and other butterflies. Nectar from the male flowers attacts butterfly, bee and bird pollinators and the seeds are dispersed by wind.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed. Cover with just enough soil to keep the seeds from blowing away. Also can be propogated from soft or hard wood cuttings.

References: Nelson 2003, Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: Spreads readily from seed in the garden and can become weedy. The pollen is an allergen. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Joe Montes de Oca via iNaturalist

Copyright by: Joe Montes de Oca via iNaturalist

Other data on Baccharis halimifolia available from:

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