Garrya elliptica

coast silk tassel

Habit: erect evergreen shrub with dense, dark, gray-green foliage that grows to 12 ft (3.5 m) tall and wide. Young stems are fuzzy with older bark gray and smooth. The egg-shaped leaves are dark green above and covered in white hairs below. They are leathery with slightly wavy margins turning under. Flowers appear in winter with male and female catkins on separate plants. The showy long, drooping clusters of greenish-white male flowers reach 6-12 in. (15-30 cm) long. Female plants produce less attractive catkins but bear hairy fruits that turn from light green to dark purple and may persist through the summer if not eaten by birds.

Ecology: native from Southwestern Oregon to Southern California up to 2500 ft (800 m) on dry north facing slopes and ridges in chaparral and mixed evergreen forests, as well as coastal bluffs. Coast silk tassel grows in shaded canyons and up to 7000 ft (2133 m) in the Coast Ranges.

Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade, well-drained moist soil, tolerates coastal conditions.

Clusters of foot-long, light-green catkins with a silvery sheen, contrast with the foliage in winter and clusters of purple fruit attract birds.

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Type: Evergreen Shrub
Height: 8-12 ft (2.5-3.5 m)
Width: 8-12 ft (2.5-3.5 m)
USDA Zones: 7b-9b
Map courtesy of USDA-NRCS Plants Database.