Content Detail

Groundsel-tree is a fast-growing, large shrub with stiff, dense, spreading branches. Silver-gray foliage turns a purplish-red in fall. It is native to southern U.S. coastal areas. Highly salt tolerant, it may be difficult to find in nurseries.

  • Family (English) Composite
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, late summer, mid fall, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, White
  • Shape or form Oval, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast


Goundsel-tree is a large shrub which grows to more than eight feet.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is found in Nova Scotia, the eastern and southern United States, and eastern Mexico.

Bark color and texture:

Upright, finely-textured, stiff branches on short trunks.

Leaf description:

The silver-gray to gray-green alternate leaves are two shapes. One is elliptical to rounded with a pointed tip near flower heads whereas the leaves on the lower stems are elliptic-ovate, coarsely toothed and up to three inches long. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Dioecious, many tubular, whitish flowers in a dense cluster at tips of branches.

Fruit, cone, nut and seed descriptions:

Female plants have a flattened, ribbed, one seeded fruit or achenes with silvery hairs.

Tree and Plant Care:

A multi-stemmed rounded shrub reaching six to 12 feet high. It is sun loving, but is tolerant of part shade. It grows best in wet to droughty, gravel to fine sand. Branch tips dieback in extreme cold temperatures.

List of pests and diseases:

No disease or insect problems, but the weak wood is easily broken.


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