Silky oak, or Silk oak, is Grevillea robusta, and is native to the rain forests of Australia's south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. Silky oak is an ornamental of the first order being bold, exotic and unique. Its leaves are divided, dark green above, silvery beneath, resembling ferny fronds, but with a leathery texture. The foliage gives Silky oak a fine texture and is beautiful enough in its own right to justify growing it. But, then there are the blooms. And the only word for Silky oak in full bloom is brilliant. The flowers are bright, eye-catching orange-yellow, and are presented horizontally in crowded clusters in spring-summer. Not surprisingly even the fruits are unique and though they are not showy, they have been poetically described as a flock of miniature cranes lined up along branch tip.

Silky oak grows fast and will reach a height of 75 feet or more with a 25

foot spread. It's also an excellent shade tree with a pyramidal shape supported by a thick, grey trunk and heavy, horizontal branches. Leaf fall is heavy in winter, early spring, just before the new leaves emerge, so site accordingly.

If there are any drawbacks it would be perhaps that the wood is a bit brittle on older trees, so Silky oak should not be located too close to structures. And being Australian, it cannot withstand frigid winters. A healthy tree in good condition will withstand short periods in the mid-teens Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the foliage of Silky oak is so esteemed that the tree is grown in pots in cold/temperate regions. Also, it is an excellent choice for xeriscaping being tolerant of dry conditions. It grows well in southern California and in Florida and the US Gulf Coast and it will do well on a south-facing wall in the southern UK. Of course it is an especially easy choice in Australia and New Zealand. Look for it in better tree nurseries.


Silky oak

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