Perennials, subshrubs, shrubs, or trees,
10-600 cm (dioecious [rarely monoecious], usually glabrous, often resinous; bases woody, rarely rhizomatous). Stems
(1-20+) usually erect or ascending, rarely prostrate (usually striate-angled, rarely terete and smooth; usually green), glabrous, glabrate, hispidulous, or villous, often resinous. Leaves
cauline (sometimes withering and sparse or absent at flowering); alternate; sessile or petiolate; blades 1- or 3-nerved, linear, lanceolate, ovate, oblong, obovate, or rhombic (usually reduced distally), margins entire or coarsely serrate, faces usually glabrous, rarely hispidulous or villous, often gland-dotted and resinous. Heads
(sessile or pedicellate, unisexual) discoid, usually in paniculiform or corymbiform, sometimes racemiform arrays or borne singly. Involucres
cylindric to campanulate or hemispheric, 3-9 mm diam. Phyllaries
20-40 in 2-5 series (mid usually green, sometimes red or purple), 1-nerved, ovate to lanceolate, unequal, margins usually scarious, often erose or ciliate, sometimes keeled (midribs evident or not, apices obtuse to acute or acuminate, sometimes keeled), usually glabrous, rarely hispid. Receptacles
flat, tholiform, or conic, pitted or smooth (glabrous, tomentose, or glandular), usually epaleate. Functionally staminate florets
corollas white to pale yellow, tubes about equal to narrowly funnelform throats, lobes 5, spreading-reflexed, deltate to lance-ovate (pappi of 20-40 equal, often crisped and minutely barbellate or distally plumose bristles). Pistillate florets
20-150; corollas whitish , filiform-tubular, lobes 5, spreading-reflexed, ± deltate to lance-ovate; style branches (glabrate, flattened), appendages lacking. Cypselae
light brown, obovoid to cylindric, ± compressed, 5-10-nerved, glabrous or hispid; pappi
persistent or falling, of 25-50 whitish to tawny, rarely brownish (elongating and usually surpassing phyllaries in fruit), minutely barbellate, apically attenuate bristles in 1-3 series. x
= 9. Baccharis
comprises mostly dioecious shrubs with gland-dotted leaves and is sister to the polygamo-dioecious genera Archibaccharis
. Sections have been delimited within Baccharis
(e.g., D. A. Giuliano 2001; Giuliano and G. L. Nesom 2003; Nesom 1990h, 1998). Species of Baccharis
often occur in wet sites such as stream banks, washes, ditches, and marshes. Useful taxonomic characters include habit, branching structure, leaf shape, size, margins, and vestiture, arrangement of heads, and number of nerves on cypselae. Collectors should try to collect both staminate and pistillate individuals to facilitate identification. Hybridization and introgression have been found between Baccharis halimifolia
and B. neglecta
, and between B. halimifolia
and B. angustifolia
. Intermediates between B. thesioides
and B. bigelovii
have been collected in southern Arizona.
Baccharis is of little economic importance, except for species that are invasive or toxic to livestock (P. E. Boldt 1989). Baccharis is not generally palatable to cattle; it could become the only forage available as a result of overgrazing. In the southwestern United States, B. pteronioides is a hazard to cattle; B. halimifolia, B. angustifolia, and B. glomeruliflora cause similar problems in the eastern United States (G. E. Burrows and R. J. Tyrl 2001). Baccharis pilularis invades overgrazed or eroded rangelands in California and Oregon. Baccharis halimifolia has been introduced in Australia, infesting large areas along the eastern coast, prompting the search for biological control agents (Boldt).
Neomolina F. H. Hellwig is an illegitimate, later homonym that has been applied to species included here in Baccharis.
In key leads, references to pappi are to pappi on cypselae (i.e., in pistillate heads).