Brachylaena discolor – Coast silver oak – Kusvaalbos
Although the Coast silver oak bears no relationship to the oak, the foliage of the Brachylaena discolor probably reminded the early settlers of oaks when they arrived on South African shores.
The foliage is distinctive as it is green on top with a silvery green underside that draws the attention when the wind blows. This evergreen tree normally reaches a height of 4 – 10 m with a spread of +- 10 m in the garden, but can attain heights of up to 27 m in a forest habitat. The dense, wide, spreading tree is easily trained as a shrub or screening plant and can provide privacy in a short space of time, with its fast growing rate.
From July to September, the tree is covered by creamy white, nectar-rich flowers that attract insects, butterflies and birds. Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees and the small, thistle-like flower heads appear at the end of branches.
The Coast silver oak is hardy, drought- and frost resistant and will grow well in shade or full sun. It is particularly suited to our harsh coastal conditions as it tolerates poor soil conditions and salt laden winds. As such, the tree is often used to stabilise dunes.
With its non-invasive root system, the Coast silver oak makes a good container plant and can be used close to walls to act as a hedge or windbreak. This is a striking tree that will add beauty to your garden with its unusual colouring.