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Products > Leucophyta brownii
Leucophyta brownii - Cushion Bush
Image of Leucophyta brownii
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 rounded mounding shrub to 1 to 3+ foot tall 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. It is cold hardy to 20 degrees F and an excellent plant 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 watered 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 grouping of plants 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 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. We have grown this attractive and interesting plant since 1989. 

This information about Leucophyta brownii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.