Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Garrya elliptica (Wavyleaf Silktassel, Coast Silk-Tassel)


 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Garryaceae Silk Tassel family


 Garrya Douglas ex Lindl. silktassel


 Garrya elliptica Douglas ex Lindl. wavyleaf silktassel

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

This regal evergreen shrub reaches 8,' remaining dense and shrubby as it grows.

The leaves are glossy green with gray undersides.

The late winter months see the branches adorned with long, pendant male catkins to 10" - a unique and airy display.

Purple gray flowers follow.

Coast Silk-Tassel is an excellent choice for coastal gardens as it favors moderate temperatures, full sun and tolerates mild summer drought and salt spray.

It is found growing between western Washington and southern California, USDA zones 7-10.


From Homepage October 07, 2005

This species is about the best native plant ornamental in the northwest. It's a popular garden plant, as would be expected of anything this showy. These shrubs are evergreen with tough, opposite leaves. The flowers concentrate in catkin-like inflorescenes hanging from the tree branch ends, and mature to cotton puff wind-blown seeds giving these distinctive plants their name.

Pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers are on separate plants; pistillate flower are singular within each bract of the catkin chain. The fruit is purple/black, fleshy within a hard casing. Staminate flowers develop in groups of three at each bract.

Four species of Garryaceae are found in the Bay Area; on Montara Mountain, this family is represented by Garrya elliptica (Coast Silk Tassel).

Will grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, and requires good drainage. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade, dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure as well as atmospheric pollution.

If the soil is too fertile the flowering will be delayed. Plants are resistant to urban pollution and maritime exposure, but they are subject to wind scorch from cold drying winds in colder areas. In cold winters and springs the previous year's leaves may fall before the new leaves are produced.

All pruning should be carried out in spring before new growth starts but after flowering has ended. Plants are strongly resentful of root disturbance, they should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible.

Can be grown as a hedge or wind shelter. Grey to black dyes are obtained from the berries. The colour varies according to the ripeness of the fruit, green fruits are the best. Wood - hard, close-grained. It has been used for fine cabinet work, though its small size and rarity limits its commercial usefulness.

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