Silver Tree

Leucadendron argenteum

Witteboom, Silwerboom (Afr.)

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The Silver tree is an erect, well-proportioned, ornamental tree, 7-10 m tall, with a stout trunk and thick, grey bark. The upright branches are covered with large lance-shaped leaves, which overlap each other up the stem, concealing the thick branches. The leaves are silver-grey, covered on both surfaces with thousands of tiny, soft, silvery hairs and fringed by long white hairs. The characteristic silver sheen of the leaves is caused by the hairs. The intensity of the sheen varies with the weather. They are at their most silver in hot, dry weather, when the hairs lie flat to protect the leaves from drying out. In wet weather they are not quite as dazzling, as the hairs stand more erect to allow for free air circulation. The flowers are in dense heads at the branch tips. The leaves that surround the flower heads do not change colour while the tree is in flower, but they open wider, thus catching the light at a different angle and shining brighter silver than the rest of the leaves. The Silver tree is an endangered plant species in the family Proteaceae, which is endemic to a small area of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. They live 20 years. Uses: Ornamental garden specimen. Its beautiful silver foliage is used in floristry. Leaves have also long been collected, pressed and dried for decoration. The dried female cones are decorative and the small silver balls of the dried male flower heads are used This is a common feature plant. ZA Distribution: Western Cape.
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Planning

Difficulty

Moderate

Flowering time

Spring

Harvesting

Generally not harvested.

Propagation

Cuttings

Short cuttings from the tip of the branches can be made in autumn.

Seed

Sow seeds in Autumn in trays with a well-drained medium, place in a sunny position. Broadcast the seed evenly, firm down, cover with 10mm of clean sand or milled bark, 3-6 weeks to germinate.

Special features

Attracts useful insects

The pleasant scent of the flower attracts small beetles that do the job of pollination.

Drought resistant

Once established the plants only need small amounts of water.

Pioneer

Attractive flowers

Males are pinkish-silver in bud, and yellow and pink when open. Females have yellow-orange flowers.

Special features

Origin

Africa, South Africa, Cape Town

Natural climate

Mediterranean

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Clay, Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Neutral, Acid

Frost hardiness

Tender

Uses

Ornamental

Ornamental garden specimen. Its beautiful silver foliage is used in floristry. Leaves have also long been collected, pressed and dried for decoration. The dried female cones are decorative and the small silver balls of the dried male flower heads are used in floristry and by crafters.

Personality

Family

Proteaceae

Flower colour

Pink, Yellow, Green, Orange

Scent

Mild

Problems

Susceptible to soil borne root rotting fungus, Phytophthora and also attacked by a beetle, the Silver Tree Borer, also known as the Protea Jewel Beetle, Sphenoptera sinuosa, which bores tunnels in the roots and increases the chances of Phytopthora infection.

Related Problems

Companion plants

Credits

profile iconLeucadendron argenteum
by Alice Notten & Liesl van der Walt, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, November 2008 (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

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