Coyote Bush in Bloom: Native Plant Profile #1

Coyote Bush in its natural habitat (bottom left corner)

As you hike around the Bay Area this winter, you’ll most likely come across stands of a lovely evergreen shrub conspicuously cloaked in downy white flowers.  This would be Baccharis pilularis or Coyote Bush.  It is one of the most common species found in coastal sage scrub.  As its name suggests, it provides an excellent complex habitat for wildlife including (you guessed it!) coyotes.  As strange as it sounds, this plant is in the Asteraceae family and so, is closely related to the sunflower.  If you stretch your imagination, you can see similarities in their star-shaped (Aster is Greek for star) flowers.   Coyote Bush actually has male and female flowers on different plants, making it a dioecious plant.  

Coyote Bush's female flowers

In the wild Coyote Bush is a pioneer species that quickly recolonizes disturbed habitats.  Its extensive root system allows it to survive drought and fire.  This makes Coyote Bush a great addition to your drought-resistant garden.  (Not to mention that its green foliage is beautiful year-round!)  CCSF has its very own Coyote Bush on display in the Native Plant Garden.  Although small, it will fill in quickly and will soon draw birds, bees and butterflies to our campus.  Come by the garden and check it out!

The Native Plant Garden's Coyote Bush


  1. Yeah for coyote bush! I saw that there is a B. pilularis consanguinea growing in the bed to the north of the science building with the sage and agave. It will get nice and big hopefully.

  2. the NPG coyote bush is grown from seed, right? so we wont know if its male or female until it blooms?

  3. Yes, and its parents are the very prostrate, beachy variety.