I Love Baccharis halimifolia, aka groundsel or eastern baccharis

Oct 16, 2020 | Gardens

Sometimes it’s great to appreciate a plant that doesn’t live everywhere, doesn’t flower all summer, and can’t be kept “under control.”

Name: Baccharis halimifolia aka groundsel, eastern baccharis or groundseltree

Type of Plant: A medium to large native shrub that flowers in October and thrives on the edges of salt marshes.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: In October, when so many plants are closing up shop for the season, to have a shrub that is filled with showy, white flowers. It’s also pleasing that this plant isn’t found in every cultivated landscape, but is found in wilder areas. Eastern baccharis is a reminder that plants that don’t bloom all summer and those that prefer particular, coastal conditions, rule and thrive without human control.

The flowers of the groundsel tree are attractive to bees, butterflies and an assortment of insects. The plants are dioecious, which means that some plants bear female flowers and others are male. On Cape Cod they typically grow to about 6 feet tall, and prefer moist to wet soils.

A Word to the Wise: This isn’t a shrub for the average foundation planting, but if you have a wet area, rain garden, or live on the edges of salt marshes you can grow this lovely plant. They do self-seed…

Baccharis halimifolia thrives on the edges of salt marshes, as it does here at Scorton Creek in Sandwich.

This plant is showing off on October 16th in Dennis, near, but not on the marshland.

Groundsel shrub is even more appreciated because it doesn’t flower all summer.



  1. Judy Pesce

    what a coincidence, I just went for a walk at Coast Guard beach and saw this plant and wondered what it was. Now I know!

  2. Emily L. Ferguson

    Never seen this plant except at the water’s edge. Thinking it might be a nice addition to my plot in North Falmouth closer to the RR tracks, a good 10 minute walk from Megansett Harbor. How would I acquire it? Would it become unruly, push out other things like mock orange, white spirea etc. in a border?

    • CL Fornari

      There are nurseries that carry this shrub, and yes, it does love being near the water. I have seen it planted in islands at a condo area (in Dennis, if I’m remembering right) that weren’t directly on the water, so I know that it will live away from the coast. It is a self-seeder. If it likes your yard you might have to edit out seedlings that appear where you don’t want it to grow.

  3. Elbee Foster

    I’d like to know how to get rid of it. Bought a home where it is growing hugely in a spot I would like it not to be. Have cut it down to the ground twice and it just keeps coming back bigger. It’s in a west-facing spot overshadowed by other trees but it simply cannot kill it. Suggestions?

    • CL Fornari

      For any plant you want to get rid of, keep digging it out and cutting it off as it reappears. No magic wand here…just patience and persistence.


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