Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Baccharis salicifolia, Seepwillow

Seepwillow has creamy white flowers tinged with pink or red and a fuzzy characteristic about them. These flowers are in bloom from March to December at elevations up to 5,000 feet. Baccharis salicifolia Seepwillow is found in moist, riparian and other wetland areas in the upper and lower deserts in chaparral along streams, springs, and ditches but not always found with permanent water. Baccharis salicifolia     Seepwillow has white, soft and feather bristles, dandelion-like which are ideal for wind dispersal. Plants are native to the southwestern United States. Baccharis salicifolia Seepwillow is often, but not always growing along a perennial stream or wash. The gene Baccharis is large world-wide with over 400 accepted species. Baccharis salicifolia     Seepwillow has shiny green alternate linear shaped leaves on erect single green stems which later turn grayish or brownish with age. Baccharis salicifolia

Scientific Name: Baccharis salicifolia
Common Name: Seepwillow
Also Called: Mule-fat, Mule's Fat, Seep Willow, Seep-willow, Seepwillow Baccharis and Water Wally (Spanish: Batamote, Jarilla, Hierba del Pasmo, Jarillla).
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Baccharis glutinosa, Baccharis viminea, Molina salicifolia)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 10 feet or more.
Growth Form: Shrub or tree; mostly glabrous, erect, one main stem, shorter branches ascending from base, new stems green turning grayish or brownish with age; suckering roots form thickets.
Leaves: Green; shiny, alternate, linear or elliptic, sessile or petiolate, entire or sharply toothed, 3 to 6 inches long, resinous, sticky.
Flower Color: Creamy white flowers tinged with pink or red; fuzzy, flower head clusters on terminal tips of branches; disk heads only, flower heads in open panicle. Seeds are white, soft and feathery bristles, dandelion-like, ideal for wind dispersal, seed is an achene.
Flowering Season: March to December.
Elevation: Up to 5,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: In moist, riparian and other wetlands, lower and upper deserts and chaparral along streams, springs, ditches, not always found with permanent water.

Recorded Range: In the United States it is native to the states of AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, TX and UT. It is also found throughout Baja California, Mexico and parts of South America. Throughout most of Arizona in preferred habitat, absent in northeast corner of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Baccharis salicifolia.

U.S. Weed Information: No data available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Baccharis salicifolia has the following wetland designations: Arid West, FACW; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, OBL.
FACW = Facultative Wetland, usually occur in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands
OBL = Obligate Wetland, almost always occur in wetlands

Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 24 species and 26 accepted taxa overall for Baccharis. World wide, The Plant List includes 430 accepted species names and includes a further 409 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and California each have 10 species of Baccharis, Nevada has 5 species, New Mexico has 13 species, Texas has 12 species, Utah has 5 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Mule Fat or Seepwillow is a common, mostly riparian species forming thickets along permanent water. Individual smaller numbers of plants may be encountered in dry washes after loss of surface water. Although this shrub resembles a true willow tree and is often found in the same habitat types, it is not a member of the Salicaceae or willow family.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Yerba de Pasmo Baccharis pteronioides and Desertbroom, Baccharis sarothroides.

Seepwillow has been used for several medicinal aids and other purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Cahuilla Drug, Dermatological Aid. Leaves used in a hair wash solution to prevent baldness.
  • Cahuilla Drug, Gynecological Aid. Decoction of leaves and stems used as a female hygienic agent.
  • Cahuilla Fiber, Building Material. Limbs and branches used in house construction.
  • Costanoan Drug, Dermatological Aid. Infusion of leaves and twigs used as wash for scalp and hair to encourage growth.
  • Diegueno Drug, Dermatological Aid. Infusion of leaves used as a wash or poultice of leaves applied to bruises, wounds or insect stings.
  • Kawaiisu Other, Hunting & Fishing Item. Plant burned into a black powder, mixed with another ingredient and used for gun powder.
  • Mohave and Yuma Food, Starvation Food. Young shoots roasted and eaten as a famine food.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Febrifuge. Compound infusion of plants used as a lotion for chills from immersion.
  • See the full species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.
    Date Profile Completed: 8/5/2012; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 11/16/2016, updated format 10/08/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Baccharis glutinosa.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/16/2016)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/16/2016).
    2014 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0002, Virginia Tech Dendrology Factsheets: (accessed 10/27/2014), Virginia Tech, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Mule Fat, Asteraceae, Baccharis salicifolia Virginia Tech
    The Jepson Manual, Citation: Sun Aug 5 12:52:45 2012
    Scott D. Sundberg†, David J. Bogler, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae | Baccharis, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 08/05/2012)
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,