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SPECIES:  Baccharis halimifolia
Creative Commons image by Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,



SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Van Deelen, Timothy R. 1991. Baccharis halimifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

Updates: On 16 February 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: groundsel-tree to: eastern baccharis. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION: BACHAL SYNONYMS: Baccharis halimifolia var. angustior D.C. Baccharis halimifolia var. halimifolia [14,30] SCS PLANT CODE: BAHA COMMON NAMES: eastern baccharis groundsel-tree groundsel-bush silverling sea myrtle salt bush buckbrush consumption weed TAXONOMY: The scientific name for eastern baccharis is Baccharis halimifolia L. (Asteraceae) [14,30]. Baccharis is a genus of over 400 dioecious plants native only to the western hemisphere; 21 are found in the United States [4]. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Eastern baccharis grows along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America from Texas to Massachusetts. It is most common on the southeastern Coastal Plain, growing as far inland as Arkansas and the central Piedmont Plateau. It grows in penninsular Florida, Mexico, and the West Indies as well [5,6,7,15].
Distribution of eastern baccharis. 1977 USDA, Forest Service map digitized by Thompson and others [33].

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
   FRES41  Wet grasslands

     CT  DE  FL  GA  MD  MA  NJ  NY  NC  RI


   K078  Southern cordgrass prairie
   K080  Marl - everglades
   K090  Live oak - sea oats
   K091  Cypress savanna
   K092  Everglades
   K105  Mangrove
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest
   K114  Pocosin
   K116  Subtropical pine forest

    71  Longleaf pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    85  Slash pine - hardwood
    89  Live oak
    98  Pond pine
   101  Baldcypress


Detailed descriptions of eastern baccharis plant communities are lacking.
When present, overstory associates include loblolly pine (Pinus taeda),
longleaf pine (P. palustris), and slash pine (P. elliottii) [12].
Common understory associates include marsh elder (Iva frutescens),
switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Grelen [12] lists eastern baccharis as a "desirable" browse species for white-tailed deer, although it probably has little or no value for other wildlife species and may be toxic to some [4]. Laboratory tests on mice and chicks indicate that ingestion of more than 2 percent of an animal's body weight in eastern baccharis foliage may be toxic. Visible symptoms of eastern baccharis poisoning range from mild depression followed by recovery to extreme listlessness and stupor followed by death. The toxic compound in groundsel-bush attacks the hepatic and circulatory systems [7]. PALATABILITY: Eastern baccharis is unpalatable to cattle and often displaces more palatable forage [4]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: Eastern baccharis provides emergency cover for muskrats when storm tides sweep through southern Louisiana salt marshes [18]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Eastern baccharis's tolerance of salt spray [20] and rapid colonization of disturbed sites [21] may make it useful for disturbed site rehabilitation in some situations. More often, it is considered a weed. One eastern-Texas native-prairie restoration project reported that the presence of invading eastern baccharis reduced forb diversity [13]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Hardiness, freedom from disease, and attractive fall foliage make eastern baccharis an attractive ornamental. It may aggravate hay fever symptoms for some people [4]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Baccharis species are problem weeds of rangelands, pastures, parks, recreational areas, and floodplains. Mowing and broadleaf herbicide treatments at 1- to 3-year intervals may provide control, although such control methods are often not cost-effective. Phytophagous Brazilian insects have been successfully used to control introduced Baccharis species in Australia. Similar techniques show promise for use in the United States [4].


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Eastern baccharis is a much-branched, common shrub that seldom exceeds 16 feet (5 m) in height or 6 inches (16 cm) d.b.h. [5,6]. Its leaves are toothed, alternate, deciduous, and borne on green twigs [6]. Eastern baccharis leaves secrete a sticky resin, thought to deter herbivory by all but the most specialized insects [15]. The unisexual, yellow flowers are borne on heads surrounded by bracts. The fruit is a small achene tipped with straight bristles. Eastern baccharis is dioecious and display some sexual dimorphism, although positive sexual classification of the plant requires flower examination. Male plants generally have longer shoots, more tender leaves, grow faster, and flower and senesce earlier than female plants [15]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Seedling establishment is the primary method of eastern baccharis regeneration. Its flowers are wind pollinate, and its seeds are wind dispersed [15,22]. DeLoach and others [4] reported that eastern baccharis will resprout if clipped above the ground, although descriptions of vegetative reproduction are lacking. Seedlings require 2 years of growth after germination before reproduction can occur [21]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Detailed descriptions of eastern baccharis site requirements are lacking. General descriptions indicate that eastern baccharis grows in moist sites on soils with a high organic content including pond and bay margins, swamps, wet prairies, marshes, raised portions of salt marshes, and everglades hammocks [2,6,8,27]. It also grows on anthropogenic sites, such as fencerows and abandoned fields [5,15]. Descriptions of eastern baccharis as an early invader of interdune swales [2,6] suggest that organic content is less important than high moisture content for eastern baccharis establishment. Growth in salt marshes and brackish southeastern Louisiana swamps indicate a high salt tolerance [6,17,24]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Eastern baccharis is an early successional, woody invader of disturbed lowlands throughout its range [27]. It replaces sawgrass (Cladium spp.), freshwater marsh, and marl, wet prairie communities following drainage in southern Florida [27,29]. It is characteristic of cut-over and partially drained, deep-water swamps in southeastern Louisiana [23]. Overgrazing and drainage favor eastern baccharis invasion and convert salt marshes into shrublands [9]. Despite its early-seral nature, eastern baccharis is shade tolerant. It persists under a pine canopy and may reach carrying capacity in as little as 4 years. Self-thinning, graminoid competition, and heavy litter reduce seedling establishment and maintain a stable stem density. Disturbance and the creation of overstory gaps stimulate seed production. Shade tolerance allows eastern baccharis to maintain a pool of seedlings in the understory until disturbance provides an opportunity for release and continued regeneration [19]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Eastern baccharis flowers from August to October, and their fruit ripen from October to November [3,6,24]. A population near Gainesville, Florida, had the following phenological sequence [22]: Phenological event Time flower bud appearance late Sept. - Oct. flowers bloom late Oct. - early Nov. fruit ripens mid Nov. leaves drop mid Dec. - late Feb. dormancy late Nov. - Jan.


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Eastern baccharis is intolerant of fire and tends to occupy only unburned sites [11,12]. Postfire colonization depends on proximity of a seed source and wind dispersal. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Most fires probably kill eastern baccharis. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: No information was available on eastern baccharis's response to fire at the time this review was written. The Research Paper by Grace and others provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of eastern baccharis and that was not available when this review was written. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: To predict the contribution of eastern baccharis to fuel load, refer to Reeves and Lenhart [25] for equations relating basal stem diameter to dry weight.


SPECIES: Baccharis halimifolia
REFERENCES: 1. Allan, Philip F. 1950. Ecological bases for land use planning in Gulf Coast marshlands. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 5: 57-62, 85. [14612] 2. Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. 1988. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. 434 p. [13876] 3. Clewell, Andre F. 1985. Guide to the vascular plants of the Florida Panhandle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Press. 605 p. [13124] 4. DeLoach, C. Jack; Boldt, Paul E.; Cjordo, Hugo A.; [and others]. 1986. Weeds common to Mexican and U.S. rangelands: proposals for biological control and ecological studies. In: Patton, David R.; Gonzales V., Carlos E.; Medina, Alvin L.; [and others], technical coordinators. Management and utilization of arid land plants: Symposium proceedings; 1985 February 18-22; Saltillo, Mexico. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-135. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 49-68. [776] 5. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764] 6. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p. [12906] 7. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Piercy, Paul L.; Feurt, Seldon D.; Starling, Robert. 1957. Toxicological studies of southeastern plants. II. Compositae. Economic Botany. 11: 75-85. [15090] 8. Egler, Frank E. 1952. Southeast saline Everglades vegetation, Florida, and its management. Vegetatio. 3: 213-265. [11479] 9. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 10. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 11. Grelen, Harold E. 1983. Comparison of seasons and frequencies of burning in a young slash pine plantation. Res. Pap. SO-185. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 5 p. [10996] 12. Grelen, Harold E. 1975. Vegetative response to twelve years of seasonal burning on a Louisiana longleaf pine site. Res. Note SO-192. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 4 p. [13842] 13. Harcomb, P. A. 1989. Reports progress of three prairie restoration/management projects in Houston area (Texas). Restoration and Management Notes. 7(1): 35. [8068] 14. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954] 15. Krischik, Vera Aber; Denno, Robert F. 1990. Patterns of growth, reproduction, defense, and herbivory in the dioecious shrub Baccharis halimifolia (Compositae). Oecologia. 83: 182-190. [15088] 16. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 17. Leenhouts, Willard P.; Baker, James L. 1982. Vegetation dynamics in dusky seaside sparrow habitat on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 10: 127-132. [10501] 18. Lynch, John J.; O'Neil, Ted; Lay, Daniel W. 1947. Management significance of damage by geese and muskrats to Gulf Coast marshes. Journal of Wildlife Management. 11(1): 50-76. [14559] 19. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 20. Oosting, Henry J. 1954. Ecological processes and vegetation of the maritime strand in the southeastern United States. Botanical Review. 20: 226-262. [10730] 21. Panetta, F. D. 1979. Shade tolerance as reflected in population structures of the woody weed, groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia L.). Australian Journal of Botany. 27: 609-615. [15087] 22. Patton, Janet Easterday; Judd, Walter S. 1988. A phenological study of 20 vascular plant species occurring on the Paynes Prairie Basin, Alachua County, Florida. Castanea. 53(2): 149-163. [15081] 23. Korstian, C. F.; Brush, W. D. 1931. Southern white cedar. Tech. Bull. 251. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 75 p. [14613] 24. Penfound, W. T.; Hathaway, Edward S. 1938. Plant communities in the marshlands of southeastern Louisiana. Ecological Monographs. 8(1): 3-56. [15089] 25. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 25. Reeves, Hershel C.; Lenhart, J. David. 1988. Fuel weight prediction equations for understory woody plants in eastern Texas. Texas Journal of Science. 40(1): 49-53. [3682] 26. Richardson, Donald Robert. 1977. Vegetation of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge of Palm Beach County, Florida. Florida Scientist. 40(4): 281-330. [9644] 28. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 29. Wade, Dale; Ewel, John; Hofstetter, Ronald. 1980. Fire in South Florida ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-17. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 125 p. [10362] 30. Wunderlin, Richard P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Tampa, FL: University Presses of Florida, University of South Florida. 472 p. [13125] 31. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 32. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 33. Thompson, Robert S.; Anderson, Katherine H.; Bartlein, Patrick J. 1999. Digital representations of tree species range maps from "Atlas of United States trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications). In: Atlas of relations between climatic parameters and distributions of important trees and shrubs in North America. Denver, CO: U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services (Producer). On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [92575]

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