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Common Name: Coast Silk Tassel
Garrya elliptica is a
South-western N. America - California to Oregon.
Chaparral and forest on dry slopes and ridges below 600 metres[
Prefers a sunny position succeeding in most well-drained fertile soils[
]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Succeeds in light shade[
], the plants are also tolerant of quite deep shade[
]. Does not require a rich soil or abundant moisture[
], if the soil is too fertile the flowering will be delayed[
]. Plants are resistant to urban pollution and maritime exposure, but they are subject to wind scorch from cold drying winds in colder areas[
This species is hardy to about -15°c[
], it is best on a sunny wall in most parts of the country but does very well as a free standing shrub in Devon and Cornwall[
]. In cold winters and springs the previous year's leaves may fall before the new leaves are produced[
]. A hedge in a relatively open area at Wisley in Surrey is growing well (1991), as is a plant in a friend's garden in Stockton on Teesside(1998)[
]. All pruning should be carried out in spring before new growth starts but after flowering has ended[
Plants are strongly resentful of root disturbance[
], they should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible.
Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
The leaves are intensely bitter and are used as an antiperiodic and febrifuge. They can be used as a quinine substitute[
]. An infusion has been used to induce menstruation, probably acting as an abortifacient[
Grows well by the sea and can be grown as a hedge in the milder parts of Britain[
]. A hedge in a sheltered position at Wisley in 1991 was very healthy[
]. Makes a good wind shelter[
Grey to black dyes are obtained from the berries. The colour varies according to the ripeness of the fruit, green fruits are the best[
The bark and leaves are very bitter, a possible insect repellent?[
Wood - hard, close-grained. It has been used for fine cabinet work, though its small size and rarity limits its commercial usefulness[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Very slow, the seed can take 2 or more years to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood 10cm with a heel, August in a frame[
Cuttings of mature wood 10 - 12 cm with a heel, December/January in a frame[