Mulefat is an erect, woody, willowlike perennial
shrub growing to 12' high with stems that are simple to branched and
glabrous to minutely puberulent, often sticky, and branches that are
longitudinally grooved. The leaves are alternate, lance-linear,
entire to toothed, acuminate-tipped, and 1-3-veined with the midrib
more prominent than the lateral ones. The leaves can be 6"
long and are on short petioles. The flower heads are disciform
and are arranged in compact terminal clusters at the ends of the branches.
Baccharis is a dioecious genus, so there are both staminate and
pistillate heads but they are on separate plants. The first two
pictures show the male flowers and the second two show the female flowers.
The involucres of both are hemispheric, white, and roughly 3/16"
high, with imbricated phyllaries in 4-5 series, ovate to lanceolate
in shape, somewhat papery or scarious in texture, glabrous and ±
tinged red. Mulefat is mostly found below 3500' along stream banks
and in dry stream beds in coastal sage scrub and chaparral. It
ranges from Baja to central California and from the coast to the deserts,
and blooms most of the year but principally from April to October. It
used to be named B. glutinosa, referring to the glutinous character
of the leaves, but in the more recent Jepson Manual it is listed
as B. salicifolia, which is a reference to its willow-like appearance.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Baccharis
Pronunciation: BAK-ar-is sa-lis-i-FO-lee-a.
Click here for Botanical