Cussonia paniculata Eckl. & Zeyh.
Mountain Cabbage Tree
Cussonia paniculata subsp. paniculata
Cussonia paniculata is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 16.4 feet (5 m) tall. It is a single-stemmed highly-branching plant with a swollen stem base and green hand-shaped leaves forming a rounded crown at the ends of thick stubby branches. The stem and branches are grey with deeply fissured corky bark. The swollen stem base forms only in plants grown from seed. Leaves are composed of 7 to 9, sometimes up to 13 leaflets, springing from the end of a long stalk. New leaves are brighter green and emerge in a spring flush. Flowers are small, green and appear at the end of the trunk or branches from summer. Fruits are fleshy, purple-maroon, and ripen in fall.
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 native to South Africa.
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