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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's quite spectacular in person.  The species name is uncertain, but it might be Carmichaelia australis.  It's quite rare and hard to find.

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's 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 nice, 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

It comes from 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 it won't thrive if temperatures consistently get above 85F (29C), especially if nights are warm (over 65F / 18C).  I don't know how much frost tolerance it has, since it doesn't freeze where i am.  To be safe, i would protect it from temperatures below 30F (-1C).  It likes mostly-sunny conditions, although some afternoon shade might be needed in warmer climates.  It enjoys well-draining soil and average watering.  In the right conditions, it's an easy and very fun plant to grow.

Carmichaelia - Ribbon Tree

Carmichaelia - Ribbon Tree

 

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Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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