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In Bloom

Garrya ellipticaSilk Tassel Bush
 
Garrya elliptica
Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica Garrya elliptica
 

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The silk tassel bush blooms in winter with creamy, pendulous catkins can dangling 3-8, even up to 12 inches from its branches. An inconspicuous shrub in other seasons, silk tassel is a part of the green 'tangles' of plants that compose California and Oregon's coastal chaparral. When December arrives, silk tassel becomes exotically beautiful with its long strands of male flowers. It is a dioecious shrub, meaning male and female flowers occur on different plants, the male inflorescences growing far longer in length than those of the female. Pollen from the male catkins is dispersed through the air by wind. Its fruits are berries with small black seeds that also become airborne.

Garrya elliptica is fairly drought tolerant, needs full sun and prefers medium soil with perfect drainage. Too rich a soil mixture can discourage blooming. Its dull green leathery leaves with wavy margins grow opposite each other. Its height ranges from 8 to 25 feet.

David Douglas, the famous botanist of the Pacific Northwest who discovered Garrya, named it for his friend, Nicholas Garry, the first secretary of the Hudson Bay Company. Other species are found in Nevada, Arizona, and even in the West Indies, but none have the impressive length of catkins as Garrya elliptica.

Profile
Scientific Name Garrya elliptica
Family Garryaceae
Plant Type Tree or shrub, 8'-(rarely) 25'
Environment Needs perfect drainage and non-fertilized soil to thrive, drought tolerant but not adverse to summer watering, cold hardy to 10 degrees.
Bloom Jan-Mar; Male flowers- more showy, grey-green covered in silky white pubescence(soft downy hairs) up to 12" long; Female flowers-silver-grey, smaller to 3"
Uses Attractive plant with a neat growing habit. Not grazed greatly by deer or rabbits.
More Info "Cultivated varieties of this plant include G. elliptica 'Evie' and G. elliptica 'James Roof' (male catkins to 14"), both of which can be found at SFBG

Found in several plant communities in California and S. Oregon including coastal chaparral, mixed evergreen coastal forest and north coastal sage scrub.
Location

Garrya elliptica can be found in the California Native Garden (Bed 35B) and the Exhibition Garden (Bed 3I).

Plant Sales at San Francisco Botanical Garden
 

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor
Text by Docent Kathy McNeil
Profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler

 
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Cycads

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