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All About Salt Myrtle

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Baccharis halimifolia, groundsel bush or salt myrtle, is native to the coastal areas of all states bordering the Atlantic and was apparently once found only near the coast. With impressive salt resistance, ability to thrive in dry or moist soils, and massive seed production it has since expanded its range dramatically. It colonizes disturbed areas, so railroad cuts, roadsides, overgrazed pastures and retention ponds are places it happily sets up camp. In the fall, the female plants appear to be covered with a silvery cotton which are actually the persistent fruits. With silvery, hair-like structures that catch the wind, the seeds can end up colonizing areas far away from the mother plant and Baccharis considered a pest by many. In parts of Europe and Australia, this plant is classified as a is a noxious invasive pest, especially in coastal marshes where it outcompetes native species.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.