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Eastern False-Willow (Baccharis hamilifolia) or Saltbush

Q: I would like to know what the bushes are along the roadside.

Q: I would like to know what the bushes are along the roadside. They were blooming white flowers but now they have produced fluffy, white tufts that look similar to the dandelion.

A: The shrub you described is probably the Eastern False-Willow (Baccharis hamilifolia) or Saltbush. It blooms in the fall between September and October then produces the cottony fruiting heads containing the seed which are seen in November through December. It is a woody, evergreen shrub which grows 1-4 feet tall and the plant is dioecious meaning has either male or female plants. The heads of the male shrub are yellow-green while the female produces the white flowers and plums of white seed heads.

This shrub is found throughout Florida often along edges of salt and freshwater marshes, old fields and various disturbed places, both wet and dry. False-Willow is considered a desirable browse species for white-tailed deer although it has not been shown to be of value to any other wildlife and in fact may be toxic to certain animals. It is unpalatable to cattle but may replace palatable plants often used by cattle.