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A genus of about twelve species of dioecious evergreen trees and shrubs, natives of western N. America, Mexico, and Guatemala, and the West Indies. Leaves simple, opposite, without stipules. Flowers apetalous, borne in pendulous catkin-like racemes; staminate flowers consisting of four sepals and four stamens. Pistillate flowers with an inferior ovary bearing (in some species) a few small calyx-lobes near the apex; styles two. Fruit a berry, with one or two seeds. The family Garryaceae, of which this genus is the only member, is allied to the Cornaceae, and more particularly to Griselinia and Aucuba.
With the exception of G. elliptica the garryas have not much value in gardens, being more or less tender and with little flower beauty. In the coldest parts of the British Isles all the species treated here will need wall protection, but in the south of Britain G. elliptica and G. × thuretii are hardy, in sheltered positions in the open ground. Propagation is by cuttings of half-woody twigs in gentle heat.
The genus was named by Douglas, in honour of Nicholas Garry of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who helped him in his plant-collecting expeditions in western North America.
The latest study of the genus is: Gerald V. Dahling, ‘Systematics and Evolution of Garrya’, Contrib. Gray Herbarium, No. 209 (1978).