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Turquoise Puya

"What a crazy tree!"

  

Here's something you probably haven't seen before.  Carmichaelia - the Ribbon Tree - is a fascinating, leaf-less tree from New Zealand with long, flattened branches that function as leaves.  Looking somewhat like a weeping willow at first, this Legume relative is clearly different.  The 2 to 3 foot long "ribbons", which botanists call "cladodes", have an unusual, raised pattern.. almost like a tire tread.  When dozens of these prehistoric-looking cladodes cascade around the tree, the effect is really cool - like something from the dinosaur era!  It's hard to capture the unusual beauty of this tree in photos, but it is much loved by people who see it!  The species name is unknown; it doesn't seem to be any of the named species.  This is a very rare plant that might not be available elsewhere online.

Carmichaelia

Carmichaelia grows into a handsome, multi-branched tree about 15 feet tall here in San Francisco.  It may be grown in a tall pot and pruned to any height that is convenient.  Occasionally it makes small true leaves on the newer growth, but usually the tree just has these wacky branches.  In the Spring, they are covered with beautiful, purple & white flowers that have a sweet fragrance.  After flowering, fascinating seed pods appear that defy description!  This is a truly unique plant, and a great conversation piece.

Carmichaelia - Ribbon Tree

The Ribbon Tree's homeland of New Zealand has a mild climate, with moderate temperatures all year, and cool nights.  I have no information on how much heat the plant can take, but it's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85 degrees F (29 degrees C), especially if nights are warm.  I don't know how much frost tolerance it has, since it does not freeze where i am.  To be safe, i would protect it from temperatures below 30 degrees F (-1 C).  It likes mostly-sunny conditions, although some afternoon shade may be needed in warmer climates.  It prefers well-draining soil and average watering.  In the right conditions, it is an easy and very fun plant to grow.

Carmichaelia - Ribbon Tree

 

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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