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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 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 about 30 feet tall here in San Francisco, although you can prune it to several feet tall if necessary.  It is a handsome, well-shaped tree, with a thick trunk that has attractive bark.  The paper-thin, 4 inch 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.  Plants are either male or female, and the leaves are "shinier" on males.  They have an unusually silky feel, adding a great tactile element to the garden.  Males make attractive, apricot-colored flowers with the scent of vanilla.  Unfortunately the Silver Tree has been disappearing in South Africa due to fires, pests, and urban expansion.  There are almost no native stands left.

Leucadendron argenteum

It comes from a mild, maritime climate and does best with moderate temperatures.  It reportedly can handle temperatures in the 90s (33C) if nights are cool, but i don't think it will survive in consistently hot areas with warm nights.  It can only take a light frost, so it's best to protect it from all frost.  You can grow it in a large pot indoors, if you give it good air circulation.  It needs fast draining soil that's slightly acid and low in nutrients.  Like most Protea relatives, it dislikes high phosphorous fertilizer.  Give it mostly sunny conditions, and regular watering during the growing season.  The roots are prone to Phytophthora rot, especially if overwatered in warm weather.  Be gentle whenever repotting, as it dislikes root disturbances.

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum


Unfortunately, fake seeds of it have been offered online.  I guarantee my seeds and plants are genuine.

Check availability

 

Tips on germinating the seeds

 

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Turquoise Puya

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