The jade plant and the elephant bush are evergreen succulent plants distinguished by their thick, waxy leaves. Both are suited to surviving in harsh arid climates with little water. In fact, at first glance, it is easy to assume that they are both exactly the same plant, given their vast similarities. However, when we look closer, we find that they are actually very different plants. So join us as we discover everything you need to know about elephant bush vs jade plant!
Comparing Jade Plant vs Elephant Bush
|Jade Plant||Elephant Bush|
|Species||Crassula ovata||Portulacaria afra|
|Alternative Names||Lucky plant, money plant, money tree||Dwarf jade plant, porkbush, purslane tree, spekboom (in Afrikaans)|
|Origin||South Africa, Mozambique||South Africa|
|Natural Habitat||Fields, forests, sandy slopes||Dry, rocky slopes|
|Size||5 – 8 feet tall||6 – 20 feet tall|
|Leaves||Approx 2 inches long, oval-shape||Round to oval-shape, 3/4 inch long|
|Stem Color||Mostly green, turn brown as mature||Reddish purple|
|Flowers||Pink or white, star-shaped, grow in clusters||Pink, not star-shaped, spaced along branches|
The Key Differences Between Elephant Bush and Jade Plant
The main difference between the elephant bush and the jade plant is size.
Elephant bushes are much larger than jade plants. Other differences include the size of their leaves, the color of their stems, and the shape of their stems. One is also safe to eat, while the other isn’t.
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: Family Group
Although elephant bushes and jade plants look very similar, they are actually not at all related. Elephant bushes are members of the Didiereaceae family group, which contains 20 different species. Members of Didiereaceae are known for their ability to grow in sub-arid and arid habitats.
Jade plants are members of the Crassulaceae family group, known as the stonecrop family. Crassulaceae is a large group that contains approximately 1,400 different species across 35 genera. Most species can thrive in dry or cold regions with very little water.
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: Size
One of the most noticeable differences between elephant bushes and jade plants is the size that they can grow to. Jade plants typically reach 5 to 8 feet tall, but elephant bushes are much larger. Elephant bushes can grow to a staggering height of 20 feet tall. As their name suggests, they are actually a favorite food of elephants. Incredibly, elephants help promote its growth as they spread the lower branches apart as they are eating and disperse the seeds, which then grow into new thickets.
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: Leaves
The leaves of jade plants and elephant bushes look incredibly similar as they are both thick and waxy. The leaves of jade plants are strictly oval-shaped, while the leaves of the elephant bush are more rounded to a slight oval shape. However, the major difference is the size, as jade plants have significantly larger leaves than elephant bushes. The leaves of jade plants are approximately 2 inches long, whereas the leaves of the elephant bush are only around 3/4 inches long.
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: Flowers
There are also some slight differences between the flowers of elephant bushes and jade plants. Jade plants have pink or white star-shaped flowers which grow in clusters at the end of the branches. However, elephant bushes have white flowers, usually smaller and not star-shaped. They are also spaced out along the branches rather than being gathered at the end of the branches.
Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant: Toxicity
The final difference between these two plants is the level of their toxicity. As we’ve already mentioned, the elephant bush is regularly eaten by elephants. However, it is also a staple for tortoises and is fed to livestock such as goats due to its drought-resistant properties, meaning that it is succulent for most of the year. Elephant bush is not toxic at all and is even widely eaten by humans across Africa – typically in soup or a salad.
However, the jade plant is toxic, although only mildly so. It is toxic to humans and animals and can cause vomiting if ingested, and it can also cause mild skin irritation if touched in some cases. Therefore, it’s important to know the difference between the two plants!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are jade plants and elephant bushes good houseplants?
Yes, both jade plants and elephant bushes are excellent houseplants. They are both easy to grow and look after and live for a long time. They also both thrive in warm, sunny areas which makes them suitable for an indoor environment.
Are jade plants and elephant bushes easy to grow?
Yes, both are fairly easy to grow and do best when they are grown from clippings rather than seeds.
Do elephant bushes and jade plants have medicinal uses?
Yes, the elephant bush is often used to treat minor ailments such as blisters and bug bites. In some areas of Africa the jade plant is used to treat warts, although given its toxicity it is not advised.
Can you create bonsai trees from the elephant bush and jade plant?
Yes, through regular pruning the elephant bush and jade plant are perfect for creating a neat little bonsai tree.
Are elephant bushes and jade plants fast-growing?
No, both are slow-growing plants and take a long time to reach their full height in their natural habitat – growing no more than a few inches per year.
Why is the jade plant called a money tree?
Jade plants are also known as money trees because according to Chinese Feng Shui symbolism they bring good luck, wealth, and good fortune to anyone who has them in their home.
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crassula_ovata
- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulacaria_afra
- Sun And Seedlings, Available here: https://sunandseedlings.com/elephant-bush-vs-jade-plant/
- GFL Outdoors, Available here: https://www.gfloutdoors.com/jade-plant-vs-elephant-bush-similarities-and-differences/
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, Available here: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/elephant-bush-portulacaria-afra/