Baccharis pilularis

Common Name: dwarf chapparal-broom 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: California
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: Male flowers yellowish / female flowers white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where plants are easily grown in dry, sandy, medium to coarse, acidic to neutral, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Established plants generally perform well without supplemental watering, having good tolerance for heat, drought, wind and poor soils. Female plants produce cottony seed clusters that are distributed to new locations by wind. Propagate by seed, cuttings or bare root plantings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Baccharis pilularis, commonly known as chaparral broom, coyote brush or dwarf chaparral false willow, is an evergreen shrub that typically grows in two different forms, namely, as (1) a prostrate, mat-forming, evergreen groundcover shrub to 8-24” tall spreading to 6’ wide or more, or (2) an upright-rounded shrub to 4-8’ tall and as wide. It is native to the western U. S. where it is primarily found on sea cliffs, bluffs, sand dunes, foothills and thickets in the outer coastal ranges from Mexico and Baja California north to Oregon. It prefers open, dry sites. It is distinguished by its dark brown stems clad with serrate, sticky-coated, obovate to oblanceolate green leaves (each 1/2 to 3/4” long). This shrub is dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), with the yellowish male flowers producing pollen and the pollinated white female flowers producing fruit (cottony seed clusters). Flowers bloom in late summer to early fall, but are not particularly ornamental. Sex of a plant cannot be determined until bloom time. Typically, only male plants are cultivated for home use because they lack the cottony seed clusters which some gardeners consider to be distracting and messy additions to the landscape.

Genus name in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word pilulifera meaning having small little fruits in reference to the cottony orbicular seed clusters found on female plants.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Black mold and rust may appear.

Garden Uses

Excellent ground cover for arid, low-maintenance areas of the Western U.S. Bank stabilizer. Informal evergreen hedge. Fire-retardant cover for large areas and building peripheries.