Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Pseudopanax Crassifolius

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Pseudopanax crassifolius bark (16/10/2011, London)

Pseudopanax crassifolius bark (16/10/2011, London)

Position: Full sun to light shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 15m

Eventual Spread: 2m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 8b-10a

Family:  Araliaceae

Pseudopanax crassifolius is a single stemmed palm like tree. It has two phases of growth through out it’s life. Firstly the juvenile form , which usually lasts for about 15 years. In this phase the leaves are stiff and metallic in appearance, with a distinct yellow central rib, 1cm wide, up to 1m long, with toothed leaf margins  and all the leaves hang downwards from the main stem. All new leaves are produced from the apical bud. In this phase the tree will achieve a height of up to 6m. The young trunk of this tree has distinct vertical ridges. As the tree matures the stem will begin to branch producing a bushy top. The leaves become wider and shorter and loose their toothed margins. Umbels of star-shaped, greenish-white flowers are produced in summer and early autumn. These are followed by black fruit in late autumn. The images on this page show the mature form of the tree.

Pseudopanax crassifolius , commonly known as Cabbage Tree, Horoeka, or Toothed Lancewood, is native to New Zealand and is found throughout the islands to a height of 750m. A theory for the tree’s transformation from juvenile to adult is that it may have been a response to protect itself from the pre historic, flightless Moa bird. Once it was above browsing height it lost its toothed leaf margins. This species was thought to be two seperate species when first named by Dr Solander on Captain Cooks early voyage, Xerophylla longifloria for the juvenile and Aralia crassifolia for the adult.

Pseudopanax crassifolius (16/10/2011, London)

Pseudopanax crassifolius (16/10/2011, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name of Pseudopanax is derived from the Greek pseudo ‘false’ and panax ’Panax’, referring to the plants similarity to the Panax genus. Crassifolius is derived from the Latin crassus ’thick’ and folius ‘leaf”

The landscape architect find Pseudopanax crassifolius useful as an exotic accent tree in more sheltered parts of the country. This plant is drought tolerant once established.

We are not aware of any ecological benefits of this plant in the UK.

P. crassifolius prefers a fertile, well-drained soil. It will tolerate most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils and will tolerate drought conditions.

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance.

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