Botanical Name : Baccharis halimifolia
Family : Compositae/ Asteraceae
Genus : Baccharis
Species: B. halimifolia
Common Name: Groundsel tree; Salt marsh elder; Sea myrtle,groundsel bush, consumption weed, cotton-seed tree, groundsel tree or silverling,Eastern Baccharis,
Habitat : Eastern N. America – Massachusetts to Florida and Texas.. Open woods, thickets and borders of marshes near the coast, often in saline soils.
It is a fall flowering evergreen perennial plant of the genus Baccharis which is commonly found in the southeastern United States, although it may be found as far north as Maine. It is typically found in coastal plains and wet areas. It is dioecious — male and female flowers are found on separate plants. Shrub growing to 3.5m by 3.5m at a medium rate.
Height: 5 to 12 feet
Width: 5 to 7 feet
Form: Multi-stemmed, irregular, open, airy shrub; can become leggy
Flower/Fruit: Female plant is covered with cottony fruit that persists into early winter .
Foliage: Alternate, simple leaves; 1 to 3″; coarsely toothed; bright green to gray-green; non-showy fall color .
Leaf: Alternate, semi-evergreen, variable in shape, obovate to narrowly oblong, some nearly diamond-shaped, 1 to 2 1/2 inches long, upper half of leaf with a few coarse teeth, leaves from upper crown and near ends of twig often lacking teeth, shiny green above, may be sticky, paler beneath.
Flower: Dioecious; both male and female flowers occur in terminal, branched clusters and appear as feathery white tufts (some purple), about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, appearing in late summer.
Fruit: A small achene tipped with long feathery white bristles (dandelion like), ripen in early fall and often in great abundance giving the plant a silvery look.
Twig: Slender, green and angled, may be sticky.
Bark: Gray, reddish brown, developing furrows and flat-topped ridges.
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
Succeeds in a sunny position in any well-drained soil, from heavy clays to pure sands. Tolerates saline conditions and dry soils. A useful shrub for coastal situations, resisting maritime exposure. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. A fast-growing plant, it is very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back to the base if required. The presence of this plant growing wild was supposed to indicate areas where oil might be found. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – no pre-treatment is required. Surface sow in pots a cold frame in the spring, do not let the compost dry out. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, November in a frame. Easy
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The plant is used as a palliative and demulcent in consumption and cough.
Fuel; Hedge; Soil stabilization.
A good fast-growing hedge for exposed maritime conditions. It retains its leaves into the new year but is rather bare in late winter. Plants have an extensive root system and can be grown on sand or thin coastal soils in order to bind the soil. Resinous secretions on the leaves and wood make this a useful fuel. It is a fairly small plant though and would not be a very productive source.
Known Hazards: The plant is potentially toxic to livestck.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.