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Products > Leucophyta brownii
 
Leucophyta brownii - Cushion Bush
   

 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Green
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Calocephalus brownii]
Height: 1-3 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Leucophyta brownii (Cushion Bush) – An interesting and attractive 1 to 3+ foot tall rounded mounding shrub with small silvery-white leaves and wiry branched stems of the same color. The tiny narrow scale-like leaves lie flat against and blend into the stems making the plant look a bit more like a small white tumbleweed or a piece of coral than a living plant. In spring and summer on the ends of the stems appear the 1/2 inch wide button-shaped heads of tiny yellow flowers. Plant in full sun to light shade in a well-drained soil with moderate to little irrigation. It tolerates drought and alkaline conditions but does poorly in heavy soils and humid conditions. Hardy to 20 degrees F. Excellent for seaside gardens where it withstands winds and salt spray. This plant is typically short lived in gardens but if planted in a well-drained soil and not over water it can be fairly long lived. Old plants in gardens in Santa Barbara have exceeded 4 feet in height - a spectacular sight! Regular light pruning can ensure a tight rounded habit and according to the listing in Rodger Elliot and David Jones's Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants "it responds well to pruning if required." Cushion Bush occurs naturally on coastal dunes and along coastal cliffs along the south coast of Australia’s mainland and on the northern coasts of Tasmania, King Island, and Flinders Islands and the more compact form that is in cultivation was a selection made from near Cape Le Grand in Western Australia. This plant has long been referred to as Calocephalus brownii but the genus Calocephalus was determined to be an unnatural group and this plant was segregated into the monotypic genus Leucophyta. This previous name for the genus, Calocephalus comes from the Greek words 'calos' meaning "beautiful' and 'cephale' meaning "head" for the attractive silver rounded heads of flowers. The etymology of the newer name is from the Greek words 'leuco', meaning gray-white and 'phyta' meaning plant so combined as "white plant", which is also quite fitting. The specific epithet honors the Scottish botanist and surgeon Robert Brown who botanized and collected nearly 5,000 plants in all states of Australia as naturalist on the voyage of the Investigator from 1801 until 1805 and it was he who first described the genus Calocephalus in 1817 in "Observations on the natural family of plants called Compositae" in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Leucophyta [Calocephalos] brownii.