The IUCN lists the Silver Tree as “vulnerable”. During early colonial times the trees were heavily harvested for fire wood and its remaining natural occurrence is limited to 5-7 fragmented sub-populations on Table Mountain, with other populations away from the mountain considered to have been established by humans. Despite mainly being found within the Table Mountain National Park the remaining natural populations are also thought to be declining because of various factors, including urban expansion, unnatural fires and competition with exotic plants. The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden has some beautiful examples of the Silver Tree.
While plants die off during fires, the seeds require fire to germinate. Remarkably for a plant that seldom lives longer than 20 years and is mature at between 5 and 7 years, the seeds of the Silver Tree can remain viable for 60 to 80 years, waiting for a fire to trigger them into growing. They usually grow to 5-7m tall, with exceptional examples reaching heights of 16m, and owe their distinct appearance to a dense coating of velvety hairs on the soft leaves. Male and female flowers are carried on separate plants, and pollination is wind-dependent.