Herb: Coast Silk Tassel

Latin name: Garrya elliptica

Family: Garryaceae

Medicinal use of Coast Silk Tassel:

The leaves are intensely bitter and are used as an antiperiodic and febrifuge. They can be used as a quinine substitute. An infusion has been used to induce menstruation, probably acting as an abortifacient.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)

to February

Habitat of the herb:

Chaparral and forest on dry slopes and ridges below 600 metres.

Other uses of Coast Silk Tassel:

Grows well by the sea and can be grown as a hedge in the milder parts of Britain. A hedge in a sheltered position at Wisley in 1991 was very healthy. Makes a good wind shelter. Grey to black dyes are obtained from the berries. The colour varies according to the ripeness of the fruit, green fruits are the best. The bark and leaves are very bitter, a possible insect repellent?. Wood - hard, close-grained. It has been used for fine cabinet work, though its small size and rarity limits its commercial usefulness.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Very slow, the seed can take 2 or more years to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 10cm with a heel, August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood 10 - 12 cm with a heel, December/January in a frame.

Cultivation of Coast Silk Tassel:

Chaparral and forest on dry slopes and ridges below 600 metres.

Known hazards of Garrya elliptica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.