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Turquoise Puya

Leucadendron argenteum

It's been called "living chrome"!  The incredible Silver Tree - Leucadendron argenteum - is a unique rarity with shiny, silvery foliage that looks metallic and feels like silk!  Photographs just don't do this plant justice, because its chrome-like texture is hard to capture in pictures.  This Protea relative is an endangered species that is found in only one spot in South Africa, on Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town.  It is challenging to grow, but in the right conditions it's a spectacular plant that is rarely seen in cultivation.

Leucadendron argenteum

The Silver Tree is an evergreen (eversilver?) species that grows to about 30 feet tall here in San Francisco.  It is a very handsome tree, with a thick trunk and attractive bark.  The paper-thin, 4-5 inch long leaves get their silvery shine from thousands of silky hairs, which help keep the leaves from drying out.  In warmer weather, the hairs lie flat, reflecting the sun's light.  The leaves have a smooth, silky feel to them, adding a great tactile element to the garden.  The tree makes apricot-colored blooms the size of a golf ball that are scented of vanilla.  The Silver Tree has been dwindling in numbers in South Africa due to fires, pests, and urban expansion.  There are almost no native stands left.

Leucadendron argenteum

The Silver Tree comes from a mild, maritime climate and does best with moderate temperatures.  It reportedly can handle temperatures in the 90s if nights are cool, but i don't think it will survive in consistently warm areas like Florida or Texas.  It can only take a few degrees of frost.  It's best to protect it from all frost.   You may grow it in large pot indoors, provided that it receives good air circulation.  It needs fast draining soil that's slightly acid and low in nutrients.  A typical soil mix is 3 parts potting soil to 2 parts perlite.  Like most Protea relatives, it dislikes phosphorous fertilizer.  Give it full sun, and regular watering during the growing season.  The plant is prone to Phytophora root rot, especially if overwatered in warm weather.  Be gentle whenever repotting, as it dislikes root disturbances.

Leucadendron argenteum


Seeds are difficult to germinate, so i offer established plants.

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Strange Wonderful Things

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Turquoise Puya

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