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Featured Plant

Leucadendron argenteum


Scientific Name: Leucadendron argenteum

Common Names: Silver Tree

Family: Proteaceae

Plant Type: Evergreen shrubs or small trees

Environment: Site in full sun with good drainage. Prefers lean, acid soil and thrives in foggy coastside conditions.

Bloom: Site in full sun with good drainage. Prefers lean, acid soil and thrives in foggy coastside conditions.

Uses: Wonderful tactile element in the garden. Used most for striking silver color. Young plants make great container subjects.


  • The Protea Atlas Project

  • Tropical Flowering Plants: A Guide to Identification and Cultivation by Kirsten Albrecht Llamas
    A book with information about many South African plants.


Leucadendron argenteum can be found in and near the

South Africa Garden in Beds 26a, 27h, 32a and 30, and at the end of the Entry Garden in Bed 5.



Leucadendron argenteum

The Cape Province of South Africa, an area of 100 square miles at the tip of the continent, is a botanical wonderland. Two-thirds of its plants are endemic, meaning they occur nowhere else in the world. This peninsula, isolated from other land masses by two oceans, with Table Mountain rising 3,500 feet above Cape Town, offers great varieties in elevation, and has a mild mediterranean climate like our own. This climate, wet in winter and dry in summer, encourages enormous diversity. In fact, more than 8,550 plant species have been counted here, twice as many as in California.

The Silver Tree is native only to the slopes of Table Mountain. It is called silver because its soft, 6 - 8" elliptical leaves, which remain on the trees for several years giving it evergreen status, are covered with hairs that look astonishingly like silver in the daylight. Leucadendron argenteum can reach fifty feet in height and develops beautiful, vanilla-scented apricot flowers the size of a golf ball. Its bark is corky and pale gray in color with distinctive horizontal furrows as it ages. Sadly, it was once abundant in its native range, seeding readily after brush fires, but it is now endangered because of a beetle that bores into its bark causing mortal injury.


Photos by Joanne Taylor, Text by  Kathy McNeil, Profile by Fred Bové


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