FOTD – February 11 – Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra)

I have two large evergreen succulents in my garden, one of which must be more than 40 years old. The older one is located right outside my bedroom window and provides a bit of privacy as well as partial shade from the hot westerly afternoon sun. It covers an area 2 x 3 m and reaches some branches up to 3 m in height (6 x 9 x 9 ft). It has been a close companion and i have looked at it almost every single day for the best part of half my life.

So it is curious for me to learn (only yesterday) that it actually flowers!

Up until last evening i had no idea this was a flowering plant and yet i now have photographic proof.

As of today i also have it’s real name and have confirmed that it ‘commonly’ flowers. It is an Elephant Bush (so named because African Elephants are quite fond of eating it’s juicy, fleshy little leaves and branches, as are some Southern African people who savour it’s sour taste in soups and salads!) It is also known as Pork bush (or Spekboom in Afrikaans) and as the Dwarf Jade Plant, although it is not related to the jade plant (Crassula ovata) most people are familiar with as a house plant. I’ve only ever known it as ‘jade’ (the ‘dwarf’ and ‘plant’ part of the name had been dropped over time in my family).

There is a good reason why i did not realise this plant flowered. Despite it being considerably larger than it’s mistaken namesake, as indicated above, the flowers are so small as to be almost microscopic! They also don’t seem to last very long?

(Click on a pic to open in a new window and click again to see enlarged detail!) 🙂lovewillbringustogether - Jade flower3This stem (including the cropped brown branch) is about 7cm long! (2-3 inches) the green leaves are the size of my fingernail and the flowers are less than 5mm (1/4 inch) across. If you see the full sized image it is magnified around 10 times!

lovewillbringustogether - Jade flower2Another, shorter branch under 5cm (2in) long. If your eyesight is good you can make out 2 tiny bugs huddling on the underneath side of the stem between the 2 open flowers. They are roughly 1/10th of an inch (2mm) long!

lovewillbringustogether - Jade flower1

The curl on the left is part of a placemat and is less than 1/2 an inch across! many new buds can be seen waiting their turn to open ‘fully’. It’s moments like these that i really wish i had a good macro lens and not just my mutli-use Nikon. Apologies for the low quality.

 

lovewillbringustogether - Jade flower4As the flower grows on the bush – in ‘close-up’. I could find about 4 of these flowering branches on the entire plant which is half the size of an SUV! Again, each leaf is fingernail sized.

link to:

Cee’s Flower of the Day – February 11, 2019 – Anthurium

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love.

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4 comments

    • That was my initial thinking upon my new discovery, but after reading up on them i am thinking i just missed noticing them for the last 40+ years and will be looking much more closely in future now i know what to look for. 🙂

      The much smaller jade plants (Crassula) i have have much bigger flowers (and leaves) that are impossible to miss and assumed if this plant flowered i would have seen them pretty easily.

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