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Tracy

Cussonia spicata growth question

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Tracy

I have a couple of these Cussonia spicata growing since I liked the coarse texture of the bark for epiphyte mounting.  The one pictured has been in less than a full year now, but has really taken off (photos are 4 months apart).  The growth habit is the same as on the other one I have which is straight up with no branching.  I'm wondering at what point do they start branching?  Anyone have any experience with this species?

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Morabeza

I believe Cussonia branch each time they bloom?

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Tracy
On 6/25/2018, 10:16:38, Morabeza said:

I believe Cussonia branch each time they bloom?

Interesting... can anyone confirm if this is accurate?  I don't know because both of mine have yet to bloom.  I've seen a much larger and older one in my neighborhood bloom, but it had branches long before I ever saw it.

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George Sparkman

Cussonia paniculata does branch after flowering, sometimes at multiple spots along the trunk. My largest one (15') just flowered and has more then a dozen new branches.

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Tracy
On 7/2/2018, 7:40:29, George Sparkman said:

Cussonia paniculata does branch after flowering, sometimes at multiple spots along the trunk. My largest one (15') just flowered and has more then a dozen new branches.

I remember you had one that grew very fast.  I think its safe to assume that C spicata will behave similarly to C paniculata on the branching.  I want to get some branches going so I can mount some of my orchids on it.  As just a straight stalk with the leaves coming out, there isn't really anything that will support the epiphytes.

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Tracy

This Cussonia spicata up the hill from my house inspired me to plant one.  The owner kept it in a pot as a house plant for a long time which seemed to have slowed its growth.  This last winter they had to trim back a large section which was hanging over the narrow road.  The trunk and bark look like an ideal host for epiphytes!

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Tracy

I was hoping that by now I would have had a flowering which would lead to branching on one or both of my Cussonia spicata trees but neither has flowered yet.  I recall George's Cussonia paniculata was flowering before this height, but that is a different species.  Anyone else growing any of the Cussonia species that can weigh in on their experiences with this South African tree?

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daxin

I think you can top your plant to force it to branch. If that sounds too drastic and risky, you can take out just the growth point. I had a Cussonia spicata that was single trunk but the tip rotted after winter freeze several years ago. It responded by sending out a whorl of six new shoots sideways. Each one grew into arm sized branches. It was getting too big for the spot so I had to take it out, but it was very happy and vigorous with thick roots lifting retaining wall blocks.

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Tracy
31 minutes ago, daxin said:

I think you can top your plant to force it to branch. If that sounds too drastic and risky, you can take out just the growth point.

Based on the neighbor's up the hill which has both bloomed and also had branches removed which were growing into the street, I thought that might be a possibility.  It seems to grow the best in the shoulder seasons (Autumn and Spring), so I also considered feeding it something to promote blooming during those times.   Thank you for the feedback.

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Tracy

Pretty crazy how these "flush" like a cycad with multiple leaves emerging at once.

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Marius

Hi Tracy. Everything that has been said is accurate. I have 3 huge old C paniculata in my garden. They branch after flowering. A young cussonia seems to take quite long to get to flowering size. I have C transvaalensis, C spicata and another unidentified one planted as 60cm plants. They grow tall fast but no flowers yet. My transvaalensis was badly frost damaged this last winter. It died back to almost ground level from 4m tall, but has sprouted again from the base. My spicata has produced branches just above ground level this season although the main crown was undamaged. My one large old paniculata also produces sprouts near the trunk base. 
C paniculata has a superb rough trunk for epiphytes. 
First thee pics is C paniculata 

Fourth pic is C spicata 

Fifth pic is C transvaalensis 

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Marius

The pics mixed up after posting. 3 is C spicata 

4 is paniculata trunk

 

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Marius

I went out to get a couple more pics. Unfortunately dark now. 
Two pics of the largest paniculata- of you zoom in you’ll see some branches without leaves but with the inflorescences. 
Two pics of spicata with its new branch growing from its base.  
Pic of close up leaves is the unidentified species. 
One close up pic of large paniculata trunk with the new shoots growing out of it. I’ve removed one of these two years ago and planted it. It grew and is now a meter tall ( gave it away). 

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Marius
On 2/24/2021 at 8:16 PM, Marius said:

I went out to get a couple more pics. Unfortunately dark now. 
Two pics of the largest paniculata- of you zoom in you’ll see some branches without leaves but with the inflorescences. 
Two pics of spicata with its new branch growing from its base.  
Pic of close up leaves is the unidentified species. 
One close up pic of large paniculata trunk with the new shoots growing out of it. I’ve removed one of these two years ago and planted it. It grew and is now a meter tall ( gave it away). 

CBCCC365-43E5-4628-AE29-C7F6AA51F88D.jpeg

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Cussonia paniculata starting to set seed now. 

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Tracy
11 hours ago, Marius said:

Cussonia paniculata starting to set seed now. 

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Marius, all I can think about when I see that bark is what a great host for epiphytes!  Hope my C spicata get those nice deep grooves someday too!  One of mine may be forming some branches with this latest flush of leaves, but I'm waiting for it to develop a little more fully before I reach a conclusion.  I'm hopeful as it is just above the height of my garage, so a good place for it to branch from an aesthetic perspective.  Thanks for sharing your beautiful specimens.

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Marius
29 minutes ago, Tracy said:

Marius, all I can think about when I see that bark is what a great host for epiphytes!  Hope my C spicata get those nice deep grooves someday too!  One of mine may be forming some branches with this latest flush of leaves, but I'm waiting for it to develop a little more fully before I reach a conclusion.  I'm hopeful as it is just above the height of my garage, so a good place for it to branch from an aesthetic perspective.  Thanks for sharing your beautiful specimens.

Thanks Tracy. I hope your spicata branches soon. It’s a pity that I can’t grow epiphytes outside year round. Do you know of any that can take cold?

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Tracy
22 hours ago, Marius said:

grow epiphytes outside year round. Do you know of any that can take cold?

I don't know how cold they can go, but if you have humidity, there is the Coelogyne orchid family which is "cool' growing.  If you are doing okay with terrestrial bromeliads, perhaps you could try Tillandsia, or even mounting some bromeliads. 

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Marius
49 minutes ago, Tracy said:

I don't know how cold they can go, but if you have humidity, there is the Coelogyne orchid family which is "cool' growing.  If you are doing okay with terrestrial bromeliads, perhaps you could try Tillandsia, or even mounting some bromeliads. 

Thanks Tracy. Humidity here is not high. 
I took a picture for you this afternoon of a large C spicata near my house. The trunk is rough, but not as much as C paniculata. 

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