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Desert Baccharis

Desert Baccharis
Baccharis sergiloides

Family:

Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Form:

Shrub; 6 feet tall and wide

Range:

Sonoran and Mojave Deserts Chaparral, southern half of California, northwestern Arizona, southern tip of Nevada, southwestern corner of Utah

Habitat:

Washes and Canyon bottoms; Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, Creosote Bush Scrub, Chaparral

Living Desert Location:

Upper Colorado Garden

Also known as Waterweed, this is a water-indicating plant commonly found in seasonal streambeds. Desert Baccharis is a bright-green, rounded shrub that is nearly leafless, especially when in flower. Whitish flowers bloom from spring to autumn and are not showy, yet they attract a multitude of insect pollinators from bees and bee-flies to beetles and true bugs. Plants are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers occur on separate plants. Female plants produce seed which is wind-dispersed.

Although not widely available commercially, this Coachella Valley native would make a nice contrast in the garden with its bright-green stems juxtaposed against the more typically muted greens and gray-greens of other desert plants. Desert baccharis is generally smaller in stature and more rounded in shape compared with the more commonly used desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides). Planting only male plants will ensure against a multitude of volunteers popping up in the landscape, which has been the case with the desert broom when female plants are installed. It has yet to be determined if desert baccharis would be as aggressive at re-seeding itself.

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