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Saltbush, Baccharis halimifolia

Saltbush, or Baccharis halimifolia, goes largely unnoticed most of the year; but just wait until fall when it becomes a roadside showstopper! You’ll wonder where this plant has been hiding all year, as it flowers and is most showy when few others are in bloom.

Its dioecious nature means it has separate male and female plants, and the flowers differ accordingly. The female flowers and fruit are showiest with feathery, white, dandelion-like bristles in late summer and fall. The male flowers are yellow, tubular, and less conspicuous to the human eye; however, migrating monarchs and other butterflies are attracted to their rich nectar source. Birds use the shrub for nesting and cover as well.

While this shrub is not commonly used in the home landscape, it does possess many appealing qualities including a moderate size (6 to 10 feet), salt tolerance and ability to tolerate flooding and drought. Saltbush would make an excellent Florida-Friendly addition to many home landscapes.

Female saltbush covered with “flowers,” which are actually hairs on the ripe fruits. Photo by Niels Proctor, UF/IFAS.

Flowers of a male saltbush shrub. Photo by Bob Peterson.

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