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Grevillea robusta was first described in 1830 by Allan Cunningham, who was employed by the Superintendent of Kew, William T. Aiton, to write Hortus Kewensis and was then sent by Kew to collect plants in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Allan succeeded his brother Richard as Superintendent of the Botanic Garden in Sydney in 1836. In subtropical areas, silky oak forms a large upright tree with spreading lower branches. Its flowers, which open from October to December, are rich in nectar and attract birds and fruit bats. The seedlings, with their ferny foliage and silky new growth, make attractive houseplants.

[FZ]

Proteaceae, S.M. Chisumpa†, R.K. Brummitt and S. Marner. Flora Zambesiaca 9:3. 2006

Morphology General Habit
Tree up to 30 m high.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves up to 35 cm long, pinnate with up to 22 alternate or subopposite pinnae, the pinnae with 1–several linear or linear-oblong acute lobes to deeply pinnatifid or pinnate with up to 16 lobes or pinnules, glabrous above, closely appressed pubescent beneath.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence with main axis up to 24 cm long, usually with several simple lateral branches from near the base, appressed-pubescent towards the base but glabrous distally; pedicels 9–15 mm long, glabrous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Perianth 7–10 mm long, glabrous, bright yellow to orange or reddish.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits c. 15 × 10 mm, blackish, glabrous.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Silky oak is one of the finest flowering trees from Australia, with fern-like leaves and rich yellow, comb-like flowers in late spring.

Grevillea robusta was first described in 1830 by Allan Cunningham, who was employed by the Superintendent of Kew, William T. Aiton, to write Hortus Kewensis and was then sent by Kew to collect plants in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Allan succeeded his brother Richard as Superintendent of the Botanic Garden in Sydney in 1836. In subtropical areas, silky oak forms a large upright tree with spreading lower branches. Its flowers, which open from October to December, are rich in nectar and attract birds and fruit bats. The seedlings, with their ferny foliage and silky new growth, make attractive houseplants.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Native to Australia, silky oak is found in the rainforests of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. It has been planted throughout the tropics and subtropics as a shade tree and in agroforestry, and has become naturalised in many countries. In some places, such as Hawaii, parts of Australia, Mauritius, and Brazil, it has become invasive, out-competing native vegetation.

Description

Silky oak is a tall, upright tree measuring up to 30 m tall (although most commonly reaching around 10 m). Its bark is greyish and deeply grooved. Its leaves are much divided, and are dark green above, silky and silvery beneath, measuring 15-30 cm long. The leaves are rather leathery in texture. The flowers are bright orange-yellow, and are held horizontally in crowded racemes 10-15 cm long, each with a conspicuous, upright, cone-shaped pollen-presenter. The fruits are flattened, 15-20 mm long, with a persistent style and one or two brown seeds, each with a narrow wing surrounding it.

Uses

Grevillea robusta is commonly planted as a shade tree or street tree in tropical and subtropical areas. Its timber is used for making furniture, and in Sri Lanka and East Africa the tree is planted as a fuelwood species.

It is fast-growing, drought-resistant and tolerant of poor soil, so has been used for reclamation of deforested land in Africa and America. However, its leaves produce allelopathic compounds which inhibit the establishment of other plants (including native species), and in some places, such as Hawaii, silky oak is invasive and considered a serious weed.

In China, South India and Sri Lanka it has often been planted to provide shade in tea plantations, and in Brazil, India and Hawaii for shade in coffee plantations.

Young plants are grown for their foliage, and make attractive indoor plants, or greenhouse plants in temperate climates. In warmer climates the resulting trees are too large for most urban gardens. The flowers, which are produced in large quantities following a dry winter and spring, are rich in nectar and attract birds and insects, as well as fruit bats. The cut leaves are used in floristry.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those likely to be of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 20 g

Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: One

Seed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant survive drying without significant reduction in their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)

Cultivation

Silky oak is easy to grow in subtropical areas, surviving even in poor and degraded soils. In cold areas it is easily grown as a seedling, in a large pot of sandy soil, with the stem trained up a slender cane. In winter, the plant should be given as much light as possible, and kept rather dry. The leaves would probably survive a few degrees of overnight frost. Propagation is best by seed.

This species at Kew

Samples of wood, bark and gum from Grevillea robusta are held in the behind-the-scenes Economic Botany Collection at Kew, where they are made available to researchers by appointment.

Distribution
Australia
Ecology
Rainforest.
Conservation
Not threatened.
Hazards

The leaves are poisonous and can cause skin irritation. Cases of severe dermatitis are rare, but have been reported.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 1500 m.; Andes.
Morphology General Habit
Árbol

[FTEA]

Proteaceae, R.K. Brummitt & Serena K. Marner. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1993

Morphology General Habit
Tree up to 30 m. high.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves up to 35 cm. long, pinnate with up to 22 alternate or subopposite pinnae, the pinnae with 1-several linear or linear-oblong acute lobes to deeply pinnatifid or pinnate with up to 16 lobes or pinnules, glabrous above, closely appressed pubescent beneath.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence with main axis up to 24 cm. long, usually with several simple lateral branches from near the base, appressed pubescent towards the base but glabrous distally; pedicels 9-15 mm. long, glabrous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Perianth 7-10 mm., glabrous, bright yellow to orange or reddish.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits ±15 ×10 mm., blackish, glabrous.
Habitat
Sometimes more or less established in native vegetation near habitation or roadsides; recorded 1500-2000 m. but probably planted more widely
Distribution
Native of Australia (Queensland and New South Wales), where it is confusingly known as Silky Oak, now cultivated widely in tropical countries

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental, shade tree, timber for furniture.

Native to:

New South Wales, Queensland

Introduced into:

Argentina Northeast, Assam, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Easter Is., Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Florida, Gambia, Guatemala, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hawaii, India, Italy, Jawa, Kenya, Lesser Sunda Is., Marianas, Marshall Is., Mauritius, Mexico Southwest, Mozambique, New Zealand North, Norfolk Is., Pakistan, Rwanda, Réunion, Society Is., Solomon Is., St.Helena, Tanzania, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Vietnam, Zambia, Zaïre

English
Silky oak

Grevillea robusta A.Cunn. ex R.Br. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Jan 1, 1979 Cunningham, A. [11], Queensland K000799419 syntype
Jan 1, 1979 Cunningham, A. [72], Queensland K000799418 Unknown type material
Jan 1, 1979 Cunningham, A. [s.n.], Queensland K000799417 Unknown type material

First published in Suppl. Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 24 (1830)

Accepted by

  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Balkrishna, A. (2018). Flora of Morni Hills (Research & Possibilities): 1-581. Divya Yoga Mandir Trust.
  • Barthelat, F. (2019). La flore illustrée de Mayotte: 1-687. Biotope éditions.
  • Berendsohn, W.G., Gruber, A.K. & Monterrosa Salomón, J. (2012). Nova Silva Cusatlantica. Árboles natinos e introducidos de El Salvador. Parte 2: Angiospermae - Familias M a P y Pteridophyta Englera 29-2: 1-300.
  • Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (1982). Flore des Mascareignes 153-160: 1. IRD Éditions, MSIRI, RBG-Kew, Paris.
  • Brummitt, R.K. & Marner, S.K. (1993). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Proteaceae: 1-30.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2013). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 5: 1-451. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Edwards, S., Tadesse, M., Demissew, S. & Hedberg, I. (eds.) (2000). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 2(1): 1-532. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
  • Exell, A.W. (1973). Angiosperms of the islands of the gulf of Guinea (Fernando Po, Príncipe, S.Tomé, and Annobon) Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Botany 4: 325-411.
  • Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe Bothalia, A Journal of Botanical Research 41: 41-82.
  • Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
  • Fosberg, F.R., Sachet, M.-H., Oliver, R. (1979). A geographical checklist of the Micronesian Dicotyledonae Micronesica; Journal of the College of Guam 15: 41-295.
  • GBIF (2008-2020). Global Biodiversity Information Facility http://www.gbif.org/.
  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS G: 1-40325.
  • Hammel, B.E., Grayum, M.H., Herrera, C. & Zamora, N. (eds.) (2014). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 7: 1-840. Missouri Botanical Garden Press.
  • Hancock, I.R. & Henderson, C.P. (1988). Flora of the Solomon Islands Research Bulletin Dodo Creek Research Station 7: 1-203.
  • Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1993). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 4. revised edition Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Jones, M. (1991). A checklist of Gambian plants: 1-33. Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
  • Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánez, S. (eds.) (1999). Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i-viii, 1-1181. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • Lambdon, P. (2012). Flowering plants & ferns of St Helena: 1-624. Pisces publications for St Helena nature conservation group.
  • Lê, T.C. (2005). Danh l?c các loài th?c v?t Vi?t Nam 3: 1-1248. Hà N?i : Nhà xu?t b?n Nông nghi?p.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Nasir, E. & Ali, S.I. (eds.) (1970-1995). Flora of West Pakistan 1-131.
  • Onana, J.M. (2011). The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments: 1-195. National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
  • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • Pope, G.V., Polhill, R.M. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2006). Flora Zambesiaca 9(3): 1-277. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Robyns, W. & al. (eds.) (1948-1963). Flore du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi 1-10.
  • Sarmah, K.K. & Borthakur, S.K. (2009). A checklist of angiospermic plants of Manas national park in Assam, India Pleione 3: 190-200.
  • Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R. & Sohmer, S.H. (1999). Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i, rev. ed., 2: 989-1918. University of Hawai'i Press, Bishop Museum Press.
  • Zizka, G. (1991). Flowering plants of Easter island Palmarum Hortus Francofurtensis 3: 1-108.
  • Zuloaga, F.O., Morrone, O. , Belgrano, M.J., Marticorena, C. & Marchesi, E. (eds.) (2008). Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Desmond, R. (1977). Dictionary of British and Irish Horticulturists. Taylor and Francis Ltd, London.
  • Elliot, W.D. & Jones, D.L. (1990). Encyclopedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation, Volume 5. Lothian, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland.
  • IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group, Global Invasive Species Database.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • ( 2021-continuously updated). Natural Resources Conservation Services Plant Database http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi?earl=checklist.html.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Balkrishna, A. (2018). Flora of Morni Hills (Research & Possibilities): 1-581. Divya Yoga Mandir Trust.
  • Barthelat, F. (2019). La flore illustrée de Mayotte: 1-687. Biotope éditions.
  • Berendsohn, W.G., Gruber, A.K. & Monterrosa Salomón, J. (2012). Nova Silva Cusatlantica. Árboles natinos e introducidos de El Salvador. Parte 2: Angiospermae - Familias M a P y Pteridophyta Englera 29-2: 1-300.
  • Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (1982). Flore des Mascareignes 153-160: 1. IRD Éditions, MSIRI, RBG-Kew, Paris.
  • Brummitt, R.K. & Marner, S.K. (1993). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Proteaceae: 1-30.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2013). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 5: 1-451. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Edwards, S., Tadesse, M., Demissew, S. & Hedberg, I. (eds.) (2000). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 2(1): 1-532. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
  • Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe Bothalia, A Journal of Botanical Research 41: 41-82.
  • Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
  • Fosberg, F.R., Sachet, M.-H., Oliver, R. (1979). A geographical checklist of the Micronesian Dicotyledonae Micronesica; Journal of the College of Guam 15: 41-295.
  • GBIF (2008-2020). Global Biodiversity Information Facility http://www.gbif.org/.
  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Hammel, B.E., Grayum, M.H., Herrera, C. & Zamora, N. (eds.) (2014). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 7: 1-840. Missouri Botanical Garden Press.
  • Hancock, I.R. & Henderson, C.P. (1988). Flora of the Solomon Islands Research Bulletin Dodo Creek Research Station 7: 1-203.
  • Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1993). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 4. revised edition Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Jones, M. (1991). A checklist of Gambian plants: 1-33. Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
  • Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánez, S. (eds.) (1999). Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i-viii, 1-1181. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • Lambdon, P. (2012). Flowering plants & ferns of St Helena: 1-624. Pisces publications for St Helena nature conservation group.
  • Lê, T.C. (2005). Danh l?c các loài th?c v?t Vi?t Nam 3: 1-1248. Hà N?i : Nhà xu?t b?n Nông nghi?p.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Nasir, E. & Ali, S.I. (eds.) (1970-1995). Flora of West Pakistan 1-131.
  • Onana, J.M. (2011). The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments: 1-195. National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
  • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • Pope, G.V., Polhill, R.M. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2006). Flora Zambesiaca 9(3): 1-277. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Robyns, W. & al. (eds.) (1948-1963). Flore du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi 1-10.
  • Sarmah, K.K. & Borthakur, S.K. (2009). A checklist of angiospermic plants of Manas national park in Assam, India Pleione 3: 190-200.
  • Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R. & Sohmer, S.H. (1999). Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i, rev. ed., 2: 989-1918. University of Hawai'i Press, Bishop Museum Press.
  • Zizka, G. (1991). Flowering plants of Easter island Palmarum Hortus Francofurtensis 3: 1-108.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • F. White, Forest Flora of Northern Rhodesia p. 37 (1962).
  • J.P.M. Brenan, Check-lists of the Forest Trees and Shrubs of the British Empire no. 5, part II, Tanganyika Territory p. 460 (1949).
  • Jex-Blake, Gard. E. Afr., ed. 4: 114, 243 (1957).
  • R. Br., Prot. Nov.: 24 (1830).

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
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Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
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Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca
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Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
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Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
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