Cussonia paniculata ssp. sinuata (Mountain Cabbage Tree) - A slow growing sparsely branched evergreen pachycaul (disproportionately thick trunked) succulent tree that grows to 10 to 15 feet tall with gnarled corky bark and thick branches bearing attractive glaucus gray-green palmate leaves. These leaves are divided into 8-12 long deeply lobed leaflets that are held away from the stems on nearly foot long petioles. Once mature the plant produces small yellow flowers in summer that are tightly arranged on a woody branched inflorescence. The main trunk is usually unbranched in youth and then only branching after first flowering.
Plant in full sun to light shade (will stretch to find sun) in a moderately well-draining soil and irrigate occasionally to very little. Hardy to short duration cold to 20° F - went undamaged in our nursery garden during the 1990 freeze with temperatures to 18° F and noted from South African gardens as dropping its leaves but recovering after hard frosts. An interesting accent plant used for its bold attractive foliage texture and color that can be used both in dry garden and in the tropical garden. It is also very nice as a potted specimen, particularly when the thick swollen stem base and succulent roots are exposed. After flowering trim back the flowering stem wood back to living tissue.
Cussonia paniculata ssp. sinuata comes from the Transvaal, Orange Free State, Natal, Eastern Cape and the Karoo in South Africa where it grows to nearly 7,000 feet in elevation and is often found growing out of crevices in rocks. Cussonia paniculata ssp. sinuata differs from the species in being a larger plant, having lobed leaflets and a much wider distribution. The genus was named by Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), the Swedish naturalist often called "the father of South African botany" to honor Pierre (anglicized as Peter) Cusson (1727-1783), a French botanist who specialized in the celery, carrot or parsley family, the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. The specific epithet is from the Latin word ' panicula' meaning a "tuft" or "panicle" in reference to the structure of the inflorescence.
We have grown this interesting and attractive plant since 1987 with our current crops from seed collected in a Santa Barbara garden on a plant purchased from us many years before.
Information about Cussonia paniculata ssp. sinuata displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.