The Lovely Plants

Cussonia – The Cabbage Tree of Africa

Cussonia is a genus of ornamental trees from South Africa and Madagascar. These drought tolerant trees make excellent accent plants with a crown of lovely green foliage. Most species of Cussonia grow as solitary trees forming a slender and twisted trunks crowned by long and glossy leaves. This unique growing habit gives these trees the name of ‘Cabbage Tree’.

Cussonia, The Cabbage Tree, Image by Louisa Billeter

Most species of Cussonia grow quickly and last long. Average height of Cabbage Tree can be 8 to 12 meters. Leaves are evergreen and are used as fodder. Small, stalked flowers appear in Spring or early Summer followed by fleshy fruits. Nectar produced by Cussonia trees attracts bees, wasps, birds and other pollinating insects.

Cabbage Tree is grows easily from seeds and does not require much care. Most species resist drought and prefer a sunny spot to grow. Protect them from frost and grow in a well-drained and slightly rich soil.

Popular species include:

Cussonia Spicata – Fast growing, evergreen tree that grows up to 10 meters and produces greenish flowers in summer.

Cussonia Paniculata – Grows as a tall (up to 6 meters), slender and twisting tree. Leaves are long and waxy. Small green or crème flowers appear in dense spikes.