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Publication #FPS58

Baccharis halimifolia Salt Bush, Groundsel Bush1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Salt bush is native to coastal and interior wetlands and is most often seen invading this type of landscape (Fig. 1). It is often seen in its native habitat with wax myrtle in wet sites. The whitish flowers and fruits bring this rarely-noticed plant into view in the fall landscape. The 2-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. 

Salt bush.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Baccharis halimifolia
Pronunciation: BACK-uh-riss hal-lim-if-FOLE-ee-uh
Common name(s): Salt bush, groundsel bush
Family: Compositae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 10 (Fig. 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 Florida
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)
Availability: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


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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: obovate
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: silver/gray
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: fall flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: white
Fruit characteristic: showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; can be trained to grow with a short, single trunk; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in full sun
Soil tolerances: extended flooding; acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; clay; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: good
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

Salt bush 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, Salt-bush could be used more frequently near retention basins and drainage ditches. It has a good tolerance to brachish 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.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS58, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, 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.