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Products > Leucadendron argenteum
Leucadendron argenteum - Silver Tree

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Leucadendron argenteum
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Proteaceae (Proteas)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: NA
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Leucadendron argenteum (Silver Tree) - A strikingly beautiful evergreen (ever silver) upright growing gray barked small tree with 4 1/2 to 6 inches long by 2 inches wide soft, silky, shimmering, silvery-green-gray, lance-shaped leaves. Though generally relatively short-lived (about 20 years can be expected), it can grow to 15 to 25 feet tall by nearly as wide when in optimum conditions and in its natural habitat is known even larger. Is most attractive in its youth with older, mature branches spreading and irregularly shaped. The winter into spring bloom is not showy but the wind-pollinated flowers held in dense globose 2 inch wide clusters are known to emit a pleasant aroma. Female plants will sometimes form a small cone and produce seed if grown with male plants, which are notably a little showier than the females with small yellow and pink flowers and shinier bracts, but plants in cultivation are seed grown and look the same in juvenile form so sex typing not possible for many years.

Plant in full sun with very good drainage and give only an occasional summer watering. It is hardy to short duration temperatures to about 24 degrees F. This tree is a magnificent accent plant where it is happy, which is generally when grown pretty close to the coast in mild climates. Its shiny silvery leaves provide great contrast to both light or dark green foliage of other plants.

Leucadendron argenteum plant is endemic to a small area of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa with the most notable population on the slopes of Table Mountain above Cape Town. In its native habitat it is well adapted to fire cycles and survives by re-seeding much the same way our California closed cone pines have adapted to fire. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'leukos' meaning "white" and 'dendron' meaning tree in reference to this species and the specific epithet is Latin meaning "silver".

Dr. Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi) is credited with introducing this plant into the nursery trade in California in 1900 through his Southern California Acclimatizing Association nursery in Santa Barbara, but he actually recorded mature plants already growing and producing seeds at the George Gould estate in Montecito when he arrived in the region in 1895. Franceschi also noted that the first plant in the area was at the Acker Estate in Montecito in 1882 and this plant reached 35 feet tall before perishing in 1920. These early plants likely originated from William Walker at his Golden Gate Nursery in San Francisco, who imported Silver Tree seeds in 1859. Since these times there have been naturalized stands of it on coastal mesas in the Santa Barbara region. 

This information about Leucadendron argenteum 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.