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Publication #FPS58

Baccharis halimifolia Saltbush1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

Saltbush is native to coastal and interior wetlands and is most often seen invading this type of landscape. It is often seen in its native habitat with wax myrtle in wet sites. The yellow and white flowers bring this rarely-noticed plant into view in the fall landscape. The 1 to 3-inch-long leaves and shrubby habit allow it to blend into the background in most landscapes. Seeds are poisonous if they are eaten.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Baccharis halimifolia: Saltbush.


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Baccharis halimifolia

Pronunciation: BACK-uh-riss hal-lim-if-FOLE-ee-uh

Common name(s): Saltbush, groundsel bush, sea myrtle

Family: Asteraceae

Plant type: Shrub

USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 10 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: Native to Massachusetts, south to Florida, and west to Texas and northern Mexico

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: Native

Uses: Hedge; specimen; border; mass planting; small parking lot islands (< 100 square feet in size); medium-sized parking lot islands (100-200 square feet in size); large parking lot islands (> 200 square feet in size)

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 8 to 12 feet

Spread: 6 to 12 feet

Plant habit: Vase shape; round

Plant density: Moderate

Growth rate: Moderate

Texture: Fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: Alternate

Leaf type: Simple

Leaf margin: Dentate

Leaf shape: Ovate to obovate

Leaf venation: None, or difficult to see

Leaf type and persistence: Deciduous

Leaf blade length: 1 to 3 inches

Leaf color: Dark to medium gray green on top, pale green to almost silvery underneath

Fall color: No fall color change

Fall characteristic: Not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Baccharis halimifolia: Saltbush.


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: Male—yellow; female—white

Flower characteristic: Fall flowering; emerges in clusters along branches; female—feathery bristles

Flowering: Late summer to mid fall

Figure 4. 

Flower, Male—Baccharis halimifolia: Saltbush


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 5. 

Flower, Female—Baccharis halimifolia: Saltbush


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fruit

Fruit shape: Oval

Fruit length: ½ inch

Fruit cover: Dry or hard achene

Fruit color: White

Fruit characteristic: Showy; attached to tufts of cotton-like bristles known as pappus; only produced on female specimens

Fruiting: Mid to late fall

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: Not particularly showy; can be trained to grow with a short, single trunk; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; no thorns

Bark: Reddish brown to gray, smooth, and becoming furrowed with age

Current year stem/twig color: Brown

Current year stem/twig thickness: Thin

Figure 6. 

Bark—Baccharis halimifolia: Saltbush


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Culture

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: Acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; clay; loam; wet to well-drained

Drought tolerance: Moderate

Soil salt tolerances: Moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: High

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: Not applicable

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Invasive potential: native plant that often reproduces into nearby landscapes

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Saltbush is rarely planted by designers and horticulturists, perhaps because it is too 'common' in native stands. A useful shrub or small tree for reclaiming wet sites, saltbush could be used more frequently near retention basins and drainage ditches. It has a good tolerance to brackish water. It is well suited for planting in wet sites throughout the state. With proper care to remove recurring dead wood, nice small-tree specimens can be created. These can become nice additions to many landscape. They come into flower and are attractive at a time when few other small trees and shrubs are flowering.

Pests and Diseases

No serious pests or diseases appear to affect this plant.

Reference

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS58, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October1999. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.