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Portulacaria afra macrophylla

$10.80

Portulacaria afra macrophylla is an attractive, evergreen succulent shrub, similar in appearance to the Jade Plant. A subspecies of Portulacaria afra, the macrophylla form has larger leaves than the species (up to an inch long). It has opposite obvate fleshy leaves of a nice medium green color.

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Portulacaria afra macrophylla

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This plant works well as a green background or foundation plant in succulent gardens. It can be shaped to almost any size with trimming. It is fairly fast growing and can serve as a tall ground cover to help prevent erosion. It would be at home in median strips and could work well to hide fences in dry areas. It is not quite as hardy as the smaller-leaved species. With its shade tolerance it can work well as an indoor succulent bonsai subject. It is also useful in fire-resistant plantings.

evergreen succulent shrub

Portulacaria afra macrophylla is an attractive, evergreen succulent shrub, similar in appearance to the Jade Plant. A subspecies of Portulacaria afra, the macrophylla form has larger leaves than the species (up to an inch long). It has opposite obvate fleshy leaves of a nice medium green color. New growth has reddish brown stems. In its native habitat it blooms after spring and summer rains with small rose colored flowers at the leaf axils, but the Portulacaria afra macrophylla rarely blooms in the Western U.S.

Portulacaria afra macrophylla is used as livestock food in Cape Province and is a favorite food of Elephants comprising up to 80% of their diet. It is eaten by native peoples and is also used as an occasional salad green.

The genus name is a combination of Portulaca and ‘arius’ meaning “pertaining to” in reference to the similarity of the genus to the genus Portulaca. Recent molecular tests indicate that this genus should instead be placed in the Didiereaceae, which is otherwise only found in Madagascar. Recent research has shown this plant to be an excellent carbon sponge as it has the ability to sequestrate free carbon from the atmosphere using two different photosynthetic pathways.

Horticultural Data

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Names and Synonyms: Portulacaria afra f. macrophylla H.Jacobsen, Portulacaria afra Jacq.
Common Names: Large Leaf Elephant Food
Family: Didiereaceae (recently reclassified from Portulacaceae)
Origin: Western Cape area of South Africa where it grows in warm sites on rocky slopes with other succulents.
Size Label: 1 gallon
Height: 8-12′
Width: 4-6′
Cold Tolerance: 25 to 30°F; -3.9 to -1.1°C
Heat Tolerance: Very high heat tolerance
Light Requirement: Shade to full sun
Water needs: Drought tolerant, but can take some irrigation
Maintenance: Clip to shape as desired.
Uses: This plant works well as a green background or foundation plant in succulent gardens. It can be shaped to almost any size with trimming. It is fairly fast growing and can serve as a tall ground cover to help prevent erosion. It would be at home in median strips and could work well to hide fences in dry areas. It is not quite as hardy as the smaller-leaved species. Older branches are somewhat brittle so it is best located away from heavy pedestrian traffic and high winds. With its shade tolerance it can work well as an indoor succulent bonsai subject. It is also useful in fire-resistant plantings.
Propagation: This plant can be easily propagated from stem cuttings. It is best to allow the cutting to callous over before planting them.
Problems: Occasional mealy bugs on indoor plants

Research Links:
http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3836
http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-337506

Shipping & Availability

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There is a minimum purchase of any 4 plants for online orders. All plants shipped bare root. Other sizes may be available for pick up from our growing grounds in Fallbrook, CA. For more information, give us a call at 760-990-4762.
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