Scientific: Baccharis sarothroides
Common: desert broom
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: Sonoran and Mojave Deserts

Pronounciation: BAC-kar-us sa-ro-THOR-i-dees

Hardiness zones
USDA 9-10

Landscape Use: Typically an invasive native woody perennial shrub, otherwise cultivated varieties are occasionally used as low maintenance ground covers in open planting spaces. Prostrate forms are most usefull in the landscape as ground covers.

Form & Character: Upright and rounded to prostrate and spreading with extremely pungent shoot tissues, tough, well anchored.

Growth Habit: Moderate to rapid growth up to 10 feet tall with equal spread. Prostrate cultivars are much lower growing, usually less than 3 feet in height. Prostrate cultivars will somtimes grow stems that revert to an upright habit. These upright stems branches should be removed.

Foliage/Texture: Small, linear to lanceolate, sessile green leaves to 1 inch long on green stems, older stems woody, very pungent; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Desert broom is a dioecious plant having male and female flowers on separate plants. Female flowers are surprisingly showy, cream white. Male flowers are not showy.

Seasonal Color: Female white flowers in the fall.

Temperature: Heat loving

Light: Full sun

Soil: Thrives in desert soils

Watering: None

Pruning: Except for the named prostrate cultivars desert broom is an urban invader! Now, how to get rid of it as an urban invader for good? First, cut back the invasion specimen severely to the ground in late summer or early fall. Second, when the new growth of the invasion specimen begins to re-emerge (usually a few weeks after severe cutting), spray with a systemic herbicide like glyphosate (Round Up) to kill completely - it may require a couple of applications spaced about a month a part. If desert broom seedlings emerge within canopies of landscape shrubs BE SURE to rouge at first notice as desert broom seedlings grow a vigorous taproot that makes the plant exceedingly difficult the 'yank' out of the ground after it as a weed becomes established.

Improved landscape cultivars are usually sheared like every other shrub in Phoenix by those 'landscape professional' wannabees.

Propagation: Wind blown seed as fruit dispersal is by wind. Seedlings emerge in spring.

Disease and pests: None (though I wish there was someone or something that would develop a taste for this pungent plant)

Additional comments: Desert broom is a case of reverse invasion. A native perennial that has invaded Phoenix! It can be found around drip emitters, culverts and washes.

Important note: Use only prostrate cultivated varieties in urban landscapes. Even those however have a tendency to revert to the wild type. The Baccharis hybrid 'Starn' (P.P.A.F.) ThompsonTM is a superior prostrate growing hybrid cultivar for use as a xeric woody perennial ground cover. It was developed by Dr. Tommy Thompson and Dr. Chi Won Lee of the University of Arizona. It is superior to Baccharis hybrid 'Centennial' (another prostrate cultivar) which is a female clone that can set seed producing copious seedlings of mixed form and height. 'Starn' grows to about 3 feet tall by 4 to 5 feet wide, is evergreen with bright green foliage and inconspicuous flowers, and can function as a tough, low-maintenance, perennial ground cover for difficult planting sites in a desert city.