There are about 20 species of evergreen shrubs or small trees in this genus, with the majority native to New Zealand. The foliage is highly ornamental and interesting, being simple or palmate and some have serrated edges. The species have tiny flowers borne in larges clusters followed by small berries which are mostly black.
Pseudopanax species are highly prized for their landscaping versatility. Their strong, attractive leaf form, texture and colour and the fact that they are evergreen make them wonderful for group planting or for accent planting. Leaf colours include a strong glossy mid-green, bronze/green, bronze/coper and a gorgeous variegated species, Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Gold Splash’ which is green and gold.
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The fascinating thing about Pseudopanax crassifolius is that it goes through a total transformation as it grows from a juvenile tree to a mature tree, almost as radical as a teenager entering puberty! It begins life with a single stem with sparsely spaced, drooping, leathery, bronze/purple leaves, and after 10 – 20 years suddenly the stem thickens and becomes a slender trunk, branches apear and leaves become shorter and grow green and upright. Planted in groups, this tree makes a striking feature at each stage of its growth. Very highly recommended.
Pseudopanax species are very easy to grow, enjoying fertile well-drained soil in sun or part shade. Most species will tolerate at least light frost but should be given a warm sheltered site in cool areas.