Garrya (Silk tassel, Tassle Bush)
is a genus comprising about 18 species of flowering plants in family Garryaceae, native to North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Garrya speacies are evergreen, dioecious (having separate male and female) plants and wind-pollinated shrub. It can grow to a height of 1-5 m tall and is useful in hedges, shrub border or even as windbreaker in coastal area. The leaves are 3-15cm long, opposite, leathery and dark green to gray-green in color. The flowers are gray-green catkins. The male catkins are short and spreading when first produced in late summer, becoming long and pendulous in late winter. The female catkins are usually shorter and less pendulous. The fruit is a round dry berry containing two seeds.
The most widely grown species is Garrya elliptica
(Silk Tassle Bush), which is native to the coastal ranges of California nad southern Oregon. It is a common evergreen shrub that reaches a height of 2-5 m. The shrub has dull, oval to rounded, grey-green leaves. They are grown not for the foliage but for the catkins. Male plant bears grey-green catkins of 15 cm long, from mid winter to early spring. Female plant produce clusters of spherical, purple-brown berries in autumn.
'James Roof' is a vigorous plant, with a dark green-blue leaves and long silver-grey catkins of about 20-35 cm.
Plant Garrya in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Propagation is by semi-ripe cuttings in summer. These plants rarely need pruning. Dead wood can be cut off immediately after flowering. Beware of leaf spot that will affect the plant's growth.
Coast silk tassel (Garrya eliptica)
Seán A. O'Hara
Garrya elliptica - male catkins