Cussonia paniculata (Cabbage Tree)

Cussonia paniculata Cabbage Tree growing in Koesterfontein, Magaliesburg

A mature Cussonia paniculata (Cabbage Tree) growing in the landscape of Koesterfontein, Magaliesburg.

Cussonia paniculata

is a short, thick-set tree, rarely exceeding 5 m in height. It is sparsely branched with grey, longitudinal fissured, thick and corky bark.

The evergreen

Highveld Cabbage tree

makes for a beautiful focal point in a garden as it has an unusual shape, interesting gnarled bark and stunning, large, grey-green leaves.

This tree is considered a pachycaul succulent on the basis of its swollen stem base or tuber which forms early in plants grown from seed. Roots are also thick and swollen. The tree is slow growing.

Close up photo of Cussonia paniculata Leaves and Stem - Highveld Cabbage Tree

The large, digitately compound, cabbage blue leaves are one of the most distinctive features of the Highveld Cabbage Tree..

The large, digitately compound, cabbage blue leaves are one of its most distinctive features. The leaf colour is in some part due to the thick waxy layers on the leaves, which may help protect them against severe frosts. The leaves are composed of 7-9, but sometimes up to 13 leaflets, springing from the end of a long stalk. The leaflets are up to 30 cm in length and the overall leaf can reach 60 cm. The leaflets of some forms are deeply lobed. New leaves are brighter green and emerge in a spring flush at the ends of branches.

Cussonia paniculata occurs inland at altitudes up to 2 100 m. It is often found in rocky places from the mountains of the Karoo and Eastern Cape through KwaZulu-Natal and Free State into Gauteng and further north. It grows in crevices filled with natural organic humus and compost. It is commonly found near Johannesburg and Pretoria and throughout the

mountains of Magaliesburg

. It is frost-tolerant and drought resistant.



– Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa (VAN WYK, B. & VAN WYK, P. 1997)

– Trees of Southern Africa (COATS PALGRAVE, K. 1981)


Mitchell Krog

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