Featured Tree Series: The Coastal Silk Tassel

The Coast silk-tassel (formally known as Garrya elliptica – a species of flowering plant in the family Garryaceae) is a common Featured Tree Series: The Coastal Silk Tasselevergreen shrub native to the coastal ranges of California and Oregon, and stretching as far south to Los Angeles.

This plant is commonly referred to as a Silk Tassel Bush or Wavyleaf Silktassel. It has a multi-furcate branching structure yielding an almost spherical shape. The height of the silk tassel ranges from 2 to 5 meters, but more likely averages three meters in the wild!

Coast silk-tassel have opposite leaves that have a tough leathery feel, glossy green on top, but paler and duller on the underside. Its leaf blades are six to eight centimeters in length, and has petioles which range in length from six to twelve millimeters.

What’s even more remarkable about this drought tolerant plant, are the cascading flowers, producing a beautiful show for any landscape. The flowers are concentrated in inflorescences which cascade downward, about 4–6 cm in length. ‘James Roof’ is a very popular horticultural variety, known for its especially long tassels.

Separate male and female plants do exist in this species. The pendant male are taller and much more showy with gray/green leaves. The females are shorter and gray/silver. Although the flowers bloom in January and February, dried leaves remain on the tree well into summer, and still provide beautiful decoration after initial bloom.

Outdoor creatures such as deer and coyotes, don’t particularly like to graze on the Coast silk tassel. It is moderately drought tolerant, suitable for our Bay Area climate, but is happier with rainfall of about 25 inches per annum.

Coast silk-tassel species is usually found within the mountains of the Pacific Coast range, such as San Bruno Mountain and the coast range in Napa County – any elevations above 200 meters. This plant can tolerate moderately heavy clay soils and serpentine areas, but prefers soils pH in the range of six to eight. View our list of other drought tolerant trees for the Bay Area, here.

Ready to plant your Coastal Silk Tassel? Give the experts at tree care, Arbortek Trees, a call!