Plant of the Month Pages

Silk Tassel Bush
- Garrya veatchii

Common Name(s):Silk Tassel Bush
Scientific Name:Garrya veatchii
Family:Garryaceae (Silk Tassel)
Plant Type:Shrub or Tree
Size:1 meter to 2 meters
Habitat:chaparral
Blooms:November to January
Fire Response:Sprout from stump

Silk Tassel or Garrya veatchii is a bushy shrub that does not grow more seven feet in height. Native to our local mountains at elevations above 1500 feet but is somewhat uncommon. Competing with chamise and several species of Ceanothus helps keep this plant's numbers low in comparison. Sandstone Peak has several trails where you can easily find this plant growing along the edge of the trail.

With oval-shaped leaves that resemble manzanita leaves, you might overlook this plant by assuming it is something you already know. Closer look reveals leaves that are smooth and can be flat, wavy, or slightly rolled. The underside is white and is covered with hairs. Leaves are arranged opposite of each other in pairs. The leaves are leathery in both appearance and touch (Sclerophyllous). Leaves are vertically oriented - "hands up!".

The plant is dioecious [separate male and female plants]. Flowers take the form of long catkins. Flowering soon after the first rains and wind pollinated. Fruits are produced in spring (April).

Fire Response: According to the US Forest Service: Top-killed plants sprout vigorously in the first growing season after a fire. Partially burned plants grow new shoots from the unburned portions of their branches. New shoots produce flowers and fruits at the second post fire growing season. By year 3, plants have regained or exceeded their original heights. Source

Link to Calfora.net - the best source of this fascinating information
Name Origin: Gar'rya/garrya'na: named for Nicholas Garry (c.1782-1856) of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was an associate of David Douglas in his explorations of the Pacific Northwest, and was helpful to Douglas when he was in western North America in 1826 looking for native plants suitable for horticultural introduction in Great Britain, and it was Douglas who honored Garry with the published generic name Garrya in 1834
veatch'ii: named for Dr. John Allen Veatch (1808-1870), a surveyor, physician, botanist and curator of conchology at the California Academy of Science who came to California during the gold rush. He was born in Kentucky

Contributed by George Sherman


Silk Tassel Bush - Plant of the Month for: July 2024
Last modified: May 26 2024 16:43:56.
Number of Images: 11
Image Size Total: 5,982,915

References:

Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People, by Jan Timbrook
Leaf Shapes Primer - Botanical Terms for Leaves: - Link

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