baccharis halmifolia or Rodney Dangerfield

pheobuscottage(7b VA)October 16, 2004

Why does this beautiful tree/shrub get no respect? Baccharis Halmifolia (grounsel tree, sea myrtle, or saltbush) is featured in "reference" books for southeastern Virginia. Unlike other native plants, this is one that actually I see in the wild all the time. I only recently found out its name, and that it is related to the Asters and Senecios. It grows alongside wax myrtles in marshy roadside areas, especially near bridges in Norfolk, Va. Beach, and Hampton (we have a lot of bridges around here). Right now they look really showy, because of the fluffy white fibers on the fruit/seedheads.

Colonial Williamsburg (which always has great native plants) is the only commercial nursery which ever seems to carry it here. Why does a beautiful, broad-leaved, salt-tolerant, native shrub/tree get no respect???? Is it more popular with nurseries in the Carolinas, GA, or FL???

I was thinking of buying it, but I would love to have more info on growing it in a garden. I would love to know whether it has been included in any coastal gardening books (garden-oriented rather than encyclopedia or field guide).

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Nell Jean

Bir mentions it in "Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants," but qualifies the inclusion with "...only because of the numerous questions I get [asking to identify the floss flowered plant]."

He says it's usually used in wetlands or the edge of wetlands and goes on to say that it could be used to create interest where diversity is desired, growing to 10 feet tall.

It isn't mentioned in Southern Living's Garden Book. I've never noticed it in local nurseries. It's plentiful along the east edges of the dry woods here, reaching around other trees toward the sun. I sometimes prune it back from the field road.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2004 at 8:58PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

It is plentiful around here although, like you have mentioned, it is not seen in the nurseries. Perhaps because it is considered more of a weed as it does reseed everywhere.
Recently I have noticed some that have been limbed up into a tree form and they are extraordinary right now, just dripping with white flowers. Hmmmmm, maybe I will keep some of those seedlings.......

    Bookmark   October 23, 2004 at 8:21AM
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