Latin name: Cussonia ("kuh-SOH-nee-ah")
Common name: Cabbage Tree
Originally from: Southern Africa.
Blooms: Big crazy spikes that the bees love.
Light: Full sun
Water: Survived severe drought!
Height x width: 15-40' tall and wide
USDA Zones: 9a-11b
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed we have a large Cussonia natalensis, and in the brights bed a Cussonia spicata.
During the 5 year drought it started to die back from the top, and I thought it wasn't going to make it. I watered it twice in the final year, and it pulled through. As of April 20156 it is sprouting vigorously from the base. You can see the dead branches at the top of the photo below.
Our Cussonia spicata was planted in the brights bed in 2011 and survived the drought fine. It's got a way to go to attain it's final height of 25-40'.
I also planted a Cussonia paniculata in the middle back bed, but it was somewhat smothered by other plants around it and died. I'd love another of that species - the blue-grey leaves are lovely, and it only gets 15' tall.
The bark is cork-like, and the wood is very soft and decays easily - it's used to make mole traps and brake blocks for ox-wagons in Africa.
I highly recommend this plant. With an exotic mop of deeply-divided leaves and interesting bark on the trunk, it looks a bit like a funky palm tree.