Can you help me identify this tree/shrub? I wish I had moved it to a more suitable location when it was smaller, because it’s a volunteer that has grown up right outside a window, too close to the house. It’s about 10 ft tall now with several trunks. The goldfinches love to eat the leaves, and I also found a saddleback caterpillar on it last year, but apparently they will eat anything, so that didn’t help me identify it. It has clusters of flowers in the summer at the end of the branches.
this looks like fresh new growth on the groundsel bush, Baccharis halimifolia. This shrub was mostly found along the seacoast in areas with some salt influence, but it also likes sunny disturbed areas, and it has been spreading along roads and highways in the Carolinas and elsewhere. Each shrub is either male or female. The female shrubs develop silky fruits that make the shrub even more attractive.
You can find out more about it here: http://www.jeffpippen.com/plants/baccharis.htm http://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/baccharis-halimifolia/ and http://www.carolinanature.com/trees/baha.html
Some consider it to be weedy, some think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Dr. Steven R. Hill, Botanist, SCNPS