Cussonia arborea Hochst. ex A.Rich.
Octopus Cabbage Tree
Brassaia mannii var. camerounensis, Cussonia barteri, Cussonia delevoyi, Cussonia djalonensis, Cussonia hamata, Cussonia homblei, Cussonia kirkii, Cussonia laciniata, Cussonia longissima, Cussonia nigerica, Cussonia tisserantii
Cussonia arborea is a deciduous tree that grows up to 43 feet (13 m) tall. The bark is rough, corky, and pale brown. The leaves are digitate or palmate with 5 to 9 ovate-elliptic leaflets and up to 20 inches (50 cm) long petioles. Flowers are small and borne in terminal clusters on slender, up to 20 inches (50 cm) long spikes. The fruits are spherical, up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter, thinly fleshy, purple when ripe, and borne along the elongated spikes.
USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Cussonia is easy to grow from seed and does not require much care. Most species are drought tolerant and prefer a sunny spot to grow. Protect them from frost and grow in well-drained and slightly rich soil. These plants can handle an occasional mild frost, but a chill will make the leaves fall off. Water regularly.
All the members of this genus form a swollen stem base beneath the ground, and care must be taken not to damage this when planting out.
The best method of propagation is using seeds harvested from fresh ripe fruits. Sow seed as soon as possible as it loses much of its viability within three months. However, seed sown in the summer months will germinate faster (in about four weeks) than seed sown in winter (7 weeks to germination). Make sure seed trays are at least 6 inches (15 cm) in depth to allow the small tubers to form. Do not allow the seed to become waterlogged or dry out. Keep seed and seedlings in a semi-shaded area. Seedlings can be transplanted at about four months, but be very careful not to damage the fleshy roots when transplanting.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Cussonia.
This species is widely distributed throughout tropical Africa.
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