Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Garrya flavescens, Ashy Silktassel

Scientific Name: Garrya flavescens
Common Name: Ashy Silktassel
Also Called: Silktassel, Quinine Bush, Yellowleaf Silktassel
Family: Garryaceae, Silk Tassel Family
Synonyms: (Garrya flavescens subsp. pallida, Garrya flavescens var. pallid)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial;
Size: Up to 6 feet or so.
Growth Form: Shrub or small tree; green-gray foliage, a tough plant with male and female (dioecious) hanging clusters of flowers, drought tolerant, bark grayish green.
Leaves: Green, light green or ash-gray-green; leaves opposite, simple, leathery surface, up to 4 inches or more long, twice as long as wide, elliptical or oval, both upper (adaxial) and lower leaf surfaces (abaxial) with dense silky appressed hairs, lower leaf surface more so (see photo).
Flower Color: Flowers dioecious hanging in drooping tassels, green or gray-green, fruits are hairy round berries (in pairs) also in tassels and covered with dense hairs (see photo).
Flowering Season: January to April.
Elevation: 2,500 to 7,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: CA Desert slopes, chaparral, pine-oak woodland communities.

Recorded Range: Ashy Silktassel is found in the southwest United States in: AZ, CA, NM, NV and UT. In Arizona it occurs mostly in the western half and southeast portions in the Madrean Sky Islands (Madrean pine-oak woodlands). Large populations in California, smaller populations in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. This species is also found in Baja California and northern Mexico in Sonora, and Chihuahua.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Garrya flavescens.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: 9 species in the United States, 2 species in Arizona. Previously placed in 2 sub-taxonomic groups as; Garrya flavescens ssp. pallida and Garrya flavescens var. pallida.

The Plant List includes 26 scientific plant names of species rank for the genus Garrya. Of these 15 are accepted species names.

Comments: Ashy Silktassel is occasionally used as an ornamental in upland desert landscapes, particularly in California.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Wright's Silktassel, Garrya wrightii.

An infusion of leaves of Garrya flavescens was taken for for gonorrhea, as a laxative and for stomachaches by southwestern Native Americans. See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 09/24/2015, updated format 10/12/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/24/2015).
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 09/24/2015)
Wikipedia contributors, 'Garrya flavescens', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 September 2015, 03:28 UTC, [accessed 24 September 2015]
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information