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Cussonia paniculata (Mountain Cabbage Tree)

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Scientific Name

Cussonia paniculata Eckl. & Zeyh.

Common Names

Mountain Cabbage Tree

Synonyms

Cussonia paniculata subsp. paniculata

Scientific Classification

Family: Araliaceae
Subfamily: Aralioideae
Genus: Cussonia

Description

Cussonia paniculata is a short, thick-set tree up to 16.4 feet (5 m) tall, sparsely branched with grey, longitudinal fissured, thick and corky bark. The stem is thick and squat. It is considered a pachycaul succulent on the basis of its swollen stem base or tuber which forms early in plants grown from seed. The leaves are large, cabbage and blue. They are composed of 7 to 9, but sometimes up to 13 leaflets, springing from the end of a long stalk. New leaves are brighter green and emerge in a spring flush at the ends of branches. The flowers are small, green and appear at the end of the trunk or branches.

Photo via wikimedia.org

Hardiness

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 a well-drained and slightly rich soil. These plants can handle an occasional and 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 by means of seed harvested from fresh ripe fruits. Sow seed as soon as possible as it loses much of its viability within 3 months. However, seed sown in summer months will germinate faster (in about 4 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 seed to become waterlogged or dry out. Keep seed and seedlings in a semi-shaded area. Seedlings can be transplanted at about 4 months, but be very careful not to damage the fleshy roots when transplanting… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Cussonia

Origin

It is native to South Africa.

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