Cussonia natalensis

cabbage tree
Small tree. Unique deciduous cussonia with star shaped leaves that turn gold in the fall. More/ lower branched than other cussonia, with the same cork bark.
height 10–25ft
width 10–20ft
tolerates Drought, Heat, Pots
Cussonias grow a tangle of thick succulent roots that make them quite drought tolerant once established. Deep summer watering every two weeks to a month once established is recommended.

If they have good drainage, they also take well to frequent irrigation, growing very quickly.

If you are growing cussonias in heavy soil, be sure to let them go almost totally dry between waterings. If the tree is getting too much water, you may see rot running vertically on the trunk. Occasionally plants will recover, but should be cut below the lowest area of rot.

Can be cut back anywhere along the trunk, even to the ground, and will regrow from the cut point, usually with multiple new heads.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose
origin Zimbabwe

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.

Growing Notes

Upright and palm-like when young, Cussonia will become a branched tree with corky bark in great age.
This tree can be cut back hard and will sprout many new heads from the cut. Cussonia can even be cut to the ground and it will regrow.
Roots and trunk are aggressive so keep away from drains, etc.
Plant them on an angle and they will grow upward from there, creating a fun curve in the trunk.

Special Interest

Corky bark and yellow-green flowers, loved by birds, add interest. The corky bark was once used for wagon brakes in Cussonia’s native southern Africa.

Cussonias can be planted elevated on a mound; as the dirt washes away, thick roots will be exposed in bonsai style. Or you can replant in a pot every few years, lifting the roots each time to expose the sculptural roots.