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Baccharis halimifolia is often confused with:
Chenopodium album Chenopodium album
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Aesculus parviflora Aesculus parviflora seed
Aronia arbutifolia Aronia arbutifolia
Aronia melanocarpa Aronia melanocarpa - berries and fall color

Salt Marsh Elder Baccharis halimifolia

Previously known as:

  • Baccharis halimifolia var. angustior de Candolle
Phonetic Spelling
BAK-ah-riss ha-lim-ih-FOH-lee-ah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

There are several similar Baccharis species that form large shrubs or small trees. Groundsel tree, in the Asteraceae (daisy) family, is a native shrub to the coastal areas of the eastern US.  It is commonly found in salt marshes, sandy locations, wet disturbed sites, near a road, fields, and is occasionally sold in the nursery trade for its unique foliage and flowering season. 

This plant is commonly seen as a multi-trunked plant with an irregular, open, airy habit that can become leggy. As a seedling it resembles lambsquarters. In the fall and winter, plants may be covered with white to cream-colored flower heads.  Seeds are shed in late fall or winter, but the seeds of the female plant (this plant is dioecious) are poisonous. Wind dispersed seeds blow into landscapes during the winter months and the seeds easily grow (because they do not mind the shade when seeds first start growing), making this a weedy plant.  

Plant in the full sun to partial shade in a range of soil types, even poor fertility, wet sites, and dry soil.  Heat, drought, waterlogged soils, and salt spray are all tolerated. It may even be seen growing in a place after a fire: therefore, it is very weedy because it can grow in many conditions. Though it is not commonly used as a landscape plant, if you are to plant it, it is best used as filler or on the edge of a natural area. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  The wood is brittle.  It can be weedy and if undesired, the seedlings are not well controlled by preemergence herbicides, and selective postemergence controls are not available. Hand pulling seedlings when small is the best option for removal. Also, the seeds of the female plant (this plant is dioecious) as well as the leaves in general are poisonous.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Kolmsil'
  • 'Kolmstar'
Tags:
#white#evergreen#deciduous#fall color#full sun#partial shade#drought tolerant#fall flowers#white flowers#weed#gray leaves#wildlife plant#weedy#shade shrub#fall interest#weeds#brittle wood#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#dry soil tolerant#summer flowers#dioecious#wind dispersed seeds#pollinator plant#wet soil tolerant#fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Kolmsil'
  • 'Kolmstar'
Tags:
#white#evergreen#deciduous#fall color#full sun#partial shade#drought tolerant#fall flowers#white flowers#weed#gray leaves#wildlife plant#weedy#shade shrub#fall interest#weeds#brittle wood#fast growing#salt spray tolerant#dry soil tolerant#summer flowers#dioecious#wind dispersed seeds#pollinator plant#wet soil tolerant#fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Baccharis
    Species:
    halimifolia
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Distribution:
    This plant is distributed in the West Indies, Australia, France, Mexico, Novia Scotia, as well as in the U.S. (Texas, South Carolina, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, and Louisiana).
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar attracts pollinators and insects, provides cover, and seeds are enjoyed by birds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 7 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Weed
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    White
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Description:
    The female plant is covered with cottony plume-like, pyramid-shaped achene that persists into early winter and is dispersed by wind. They resemble silver paintbrushes and are called pappi. Seeds are shed in late fall or winter, but the seeds of the female plant (this plant is dioecious) are poisonous. Wind dispersed seeds blow into landscapes during the winter months, making this a weedy plant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    White-green flowers in terminal clusters (about 3.5 inches across) with several, narrow, tubular, flowers per head that are 1/8" long and having green-tipped bracts.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Rhomboidal
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The thick foliage is covered with a white waxy layer, making it appear grey. Leaves are alternate, simple, coarsely toothed, may be sessile, bright green to gray-green (and has a non-showy fall color), and are 1-3 inches long (and about 1/3 inches to just over 1 inch wide). This plant has basal leaves too that resemble the shape of a rhombus and are serrate.
  • Bark:
    Bark Description:
    Wood is brittle.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
  • Landscape:
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Children
    Weak Wood
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Although not all the symptoms are known, it is known that if sheep eat the leaves, they could die because of cardiotoxic glycoside. Also, seeds of the female plant are poisonous.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    cardiotoxic glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds