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Elephant bush

Botanical Name:

Portulacaria afra

Common Name:

Elephant bush

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Description

It is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen upright shrub or small tree, usually 2.5–4.5 metres (8–15 ft) tall. Similar in appearance to the unrelated "jade plant" Crassula ovata (family Crassulaceae), P. afra has smaller and rounder pads and more compact growth (shorter internodal spaces, down to 1.5 millimetres (0.059 in)). It is much hardier, faster growing, more loosely branched, and has more limber tapering branches than Crassula once established.The genus Portulacaria has been shown to be an outlier, relatively unrelated to the other genera in the family, which are all restricted to small ranges in the arid far west of Southern Africa.

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Taxonomy

Order

Caryophyllales

Family

Portulacaceae

Genus

Portulacaria

Characteristics

Plant Type

Densely branched shrub or small tree 2–4 m high, branches brittle with jointed nodes; bark smooth, shiny, the twigs reddish-brown, older wood grey.

Flower

Sepals crescent-shaped, membranous, becoming rigid, 0.5–0.8 mm long; petals pale rosy-pink or mauve, narrowly obovate-oblong, slightly hooded, ± 2 mm long, subpersistent; stamens slightly longer than the petals, the filaments broadened downwards; ovary ellipsoid.

Fruit

Fruit ellipsoid, 5 mm long, 3-angled, winged on the angles, translucent, glossy, pink, pendant.

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