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A picture of a Butter Tree

Butter Tree

Tylecodon paniculatus

Tylecodon paniculatus by Dave Richardson (

Full Sun
Moderate care
Light watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Butter Tree

A photo of Butter Tree
A photo of Butter Tree
A photo of Butter Tree
A photo of Butter Tree
A photo of Butter Tree

Butter Tree Overview

Tylecodon paniculatus is a striking feature plant with its chubby stem and yellow-green paper-like bark. During the winter months, it is covered in long paddle-shaped succulent leaves which are clustered around the growing tip. Just as the leaves are falling off at the beginning of summer, long reddish-orange flowers appear and attract nectar-loving birds and insects. The largest of the Tylecodons, this caudiciform arborescent succulent can reach heights up to 2 metres. It makes for an excellent feature plant, perfect for rockeries, containers and waterwise gardens. Tylecodon species are mainly endemic to the dry western parts of South Africa and Namibia where they tend to grow in groups. It thrives in sunny positions in very well-draining, sandy soil medium. They are prone to root and stem rot so be sure to plant it with the neck at soil level with excellent drainage. Withhold watering in the dormant season (summer) and resume watering in the growing season. Plants can be propagated by seed or cuttings. Its common name 'Butter tree' refers to the smooth, fragible stems. This plant is poisonous to stock.

Common problems with Butter Tree

How to harvest Butter Tree

Collect the seed capsules in autumn and allow to open in a paper bag to avoid loss.

How to propagate Butter Tree


Sow the seed into seed trays with coarse sand topping. Do not cover. Water once a week in winter and once a month in summer. After two years the plants will be about 3cm and can be planted in pots.


Take cuttings which are about 3cm in diameter. Place them in a sharp quartzite substrate in a warm place. They will normally take about a year to produce a strong root system.

Special features of Butter Tree

Attracts birds

Lesser double-collared sunbirds have been seen visiting the Butter tree.

Drought resistant

This plant is well suited to a water-wise garden.

Attractive flowers

Attractive leaves

Attracts useful insects

Attracts nectar-loving insects.

Pot plant

Makes a striking pot plant for water-wise gardens.

Other uses of Butter Tree

Grown for their diverse foliage that ranges from large, oval, grey leaves to small, cylindrical, mid-green leaves.


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