Garryaceae or Silk Tassel Family
The Silk Tassel or Garryaceae Family is a small plant family with 2 genera, Garrya and Aucuba. These two genera have only 25 species between them. World-wide Garryaceae are native to the warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world.
The genus Garrya has 10 species native mostly to North and Central America and the genus Aucuba has 15 species, native to eastern Asia, China, Korea and Japan.
Garrya are evergreen, wind-pollinated dioecious small and large shrubs 3 to 16 feet tall. Leaves ovate, leathery, opposite and with short petioles. Leaves vary from dark green to gray-green and about 1 to 6 inches long. Flowers, male and female occurr on the same bush; flowers are small and arranged in catkins;, fruits are a berry with 2 seeds. Common names for this genus are Silk Tassel, and Tassel Bush.
Aucuba are evergreen shrubs or small trees. They are also dioecious plants with small flowers; leaves are glossy and leathery; fruit is a berry. Aucuba was formerly classified in Cornaceae or Dogwood family.
Species of economic importance are few in this family. However, one species, Coast Silk-tassel, (Garrya elliptica) is a west-coast native (CA and OR) cultivated and sold as an ornamental for its showy foliage and catkins.
The U.S.D.A., NRCS, (Natural Resources Conservation Service) lists 9 Garrya species of in the continental United States (8 sp) and Virgin Islands (1 sp). 2 species in Arizona.