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Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica Douglas ex Lindl.

Wavyleaf Silktassel, Wavy-leaf Silktassel, Silk-tassel Bush, Coastal Silktassel

Garryaceae (Silk Tassel Family)


USDA Symbol: gael

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Wavy-leaf Silktassel is a 10 ft., or taller, evergreen shrub with dense, dark, gray-green foliage. Clusters of foot-long, light-green catkins with a silvery sheen, contrast with the foliage in winter. Evergreen shrub or small tree with tassel-like clusters of flowers and fruit and paired, leathery, wavy-edged leaves. Foliage and other parts have bitter taste. These showy catkins occur only on male plants. Female plants produce less attractive catkins, but bear small, purple fruits. Leaves have a conspicuous wavy margin.

This is the only native species of Garrya reaching tree size. This distinct genus of shrubs and small trees is often placed separately in the Silktassel Family (Garryaceae). Although various parts have a bitter taste, as the name "Quininebush" suggests, goats browse the foliage.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall when growing as a tree. Much shorter when shrub-like.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Dec
Bloom Notes: Male and female catkins on separate plants, creamy color.


Native Distribution: In CA, Coast Ranges from Ventura Co. n. to Lincoln Co., OR
Native Habitat: Dry slopes and ridges below 2000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Description: Well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: This plant must be given afternoon shade in hot, dry sites. Hot winds will scorch the leaves. G. flavescens and G. fremontii are similar, less showy in bloom, but more tolerant of heat and drought. Some authors segregate member of the Garrya genus into a separate family, the Garryaceae.


Description: Increase by cuttings in cool weather or by seed.
Seed Collection: Seeds can be collected in fall.
Seed Treatment: Clean from the purple pulp and cool stratify for 30-120 days.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Garrya elliptica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Garrya elliptica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Garrya elliptica


Record Modified: 2023-04-04
Research By: TWC Staff

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