Content Detail

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

  • Family (English) Composite
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • 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 midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • 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 8 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:

Bark color is light green to brown. Upright, finely-textured, stiff branches form 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 elliptical-ovate, coarsely-toothed and up to 3 inches long. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Dioecious (having male and female flowers on different plants), this shrub produces many tubular, whitish flowers in a dense cluster at the tips of the 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 6 to 12 feet high. It is sun loving, but tolerant of part shade. It tolerates wet to dry conditions, in gravel to fine sand. Branch tips die back in extremely cold temperatures.

List of pests and diseases:

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


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