Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The roadsides of highway 1-77 near the Congaree River are filled right now with a very showy plant. Baccharis halimifolia, or groundsel, has moved up from the coast along with man’s disturbances. Female plants produce thousands of seeds which grow so prolifically that in some states groundsel is considered a noxious weed, even though it’s native.
In harsher parts of the country, this plant is useful. Cultivars of Baccharis pilularis are considered a valuable ground cover for the high desert areas of California, where tough growing conditions make it hard for plants to survive. Unlike our species of groundsel which easily grows to 10 feet, this western native stays two to three feet high and spreads broadly, providing wildlife cover. University of Georgia’s plant guru Dr. Michael Dirr says it is fire-retardant, deer-resistant and drought tolerant. It’s so tough it’s called coyote bush!