Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hardy Tapioca
Manihot grahamii

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Manihot (MAN-ee-hot) (Info)
Species: grahamii (GRAM-ee-eye) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Unknown - Tell us

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By palmbob
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By Gustichock
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There are a total of 39 photos.
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3 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral QueenB On Jul 29, 2011, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I got mine about 10 years ago as a little cutting (or seedling, it's hard to tell as they can be propagated both ways) that basically looked like a thin switch. It languished in a pot for about two years, but once in the ground, it was a full-fledged tree in about 3 years. It now has a very thick trunk with several large roots surrounding it. It does freeze back any green or semi-green growth in the winter (8b), so pruning off the dead branches to keep the tree attractive is a must, and also makes a fuller tree in the spring. This is the first year that I have had any seedlings sprout, surprisingly, since it has made copious amounts of seed. I think it must have to do with it being drier and hotter than normal here, due to the drought, because I've never had any before. Now I have several that I plan on transplanting to a better location. They're very drought tolerant and make very attractive shade trees, but as noted above, you'll want to keep an eye on them to discard any unwanted seedlings, or they could get out of control.

Positive silkroad On Dec 8, 2009, silkroad from Lady's Island, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

I moved this plant three times (and may move it again later this winter), as it was not getting enough sunlight to thrive. Even so, the delicate foliage is a great foil for other, coarser plants. I picked several seeds and left them for a few days in a saucer in my kitchen. Coming back from shopping yesterday, the seeds were gone!! I discovered several orange segment shaped outer hulls on the counter. I looked for similar shaped seeds. None. I finally discovered tiny tiny black seeds in the dark grout between the tiles on my counter. Mystery solved!! I am using the "paper towel" method to germinate them. We'll see......Update......tiny seeds I found had dropped from a vase full of basil which had flowered!!! Never found the big seeds.

Positive hoitider On Aug 23, 2009, hoitider from Emerald Isle, NC wrote:

recived this plant from a raleigh n c plant swat about six inches tall it is now about ten ft tall and loks outstanding here in zone 8 it does not produce many seedlings wish it did, but has a thousand seed balls ready to pop,very tropical looking the main stem is about 4 inches in diameter,and it dis back in winter but recovers in spring

Positive sandiegojames On Nov 18, 2007, sandiegojames from San Diego, CA wrote:

An attractive, delicate-foliaged large shrub to small tree (10-12 feet). Over several years it can form a fairly thick trunk. I finally had to take my plant out, but not until its trunk had reached ca. 8 inches across after ca. 10 years in the ground.

Bees love the fairly insignificant greenish flowers, and the plant develops hard, explosive seed pods that make spending time around the tree in early, interesting. The seeds germinate readily, and can give you a yard full of these if you let them go; however the seedlings pull up easily, roots and all. Cutting the plant back as it goes to seed will avoid the exploding seedpod issue, but it leaves you a stump for half the year. Come spring, the plant comes back to life.

My favorite characteristic of this was its delicate leaves that made an amazing web of shadows on a nearby wall. Overall, not a perfect plant, but an interesting one. Easy to grow.

Neutral Gustichock On Feb 28, 2006, Gustichock from Tandil
Argentina (Zone 10b) wrote:

Mmmmm... what can I say about this small tree? It grows everywhere here in Buenos Aires and it is actually considered a weed!
It's not very used as an ornamental plant. Here it's not considered atractive but, there are other parts of Argentina where people cultivate it in they gardens and find it very rare and unusual! So I guess I'm satying "neutral" on it!
We know it as "falso cafeto" here in Buenos Aires. I have no clue about why they call it like this. I've never seen a "real cafeto plant" and don't even know if it even exists! =S
I guess it is because the way their seeds look like! I'm going to upload a picture of them.
Anyway! It also has another common name: Mandioca brava and I guess that's very similar to its common name in English. Mandioca is a plant that has edible roots and I think it is related to this small tree.
Oh, in hot summer days, its fruits pop out releasing the seeds, sending them far away from where the tree is.

Neutral palmbob On Jul 25, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

When I first saw this 'tree' growing in a plant nut's garden, I had to have one. This guy had them all over his back yard- these tall (up to 12') spindly (1" diameter at the most) trees topped with these really ornate, deeply cut, circular leaves- they looked sort of tropical, yet were growing in an extreme xeriscape environment- a sandy-clay back yard that had literally not been watered in years- only the brief winter rains to survive on. And yet the plants looked great. Each little tree had a sparse crown of these spoke-wheel leaves. So I dug up a seedling and wa-la, had myself a thriving Manihot. And it grew very fast!

The following spring it produced a load of insignificant flowers that dangle from the tops of the trees and literally swarmed with bees. We had a lot of flowers in the yard, but the bees definitely preferred these. The tree hummed from several meters away from all the attention. The foliage was dense and produced a significant shade. Guess this plant likes more water than it was getting at the xeriscape yard.

Later in the spring to mid summer, little ornamental fruiting bodies that look a lot like miniature basketballs (green with orange striping, just like a basketball except in color, with slightly rough texture about 1" in diameter)hung all over the tree. It was gorgeous. Then, as summer progressed, loud popping sounds could be heard from the this tree. The bees were long gone, but now it was noisy again. What that noise was were these itty basketballs exploding. If you were too close at the time of an explosion, you could get hit in the face by flying seed. And seed went everywhere.

And it germinated everywhere, effortlessly. Fortunately the winter does more than defoliate this plant in my area (9b)- it melts most of the newest wood back to the stem- self pruning I call it. But all the little seedlings which showed up over 20' away sometimes did just fine that following spring. They look great, make a very mottled, attractive shade.. but if you don't want a yard full of trees all over, then be careful about adding this one to your landscape.

Now I have no more adult- hacked it down to the ground... but seem to be forever battling the new 'weed' problem. Seems some seed lasts over several winters.

Have had this tree through several exceptionally mild winters and the die back I thought was due to cold is just a natural winter process for this tree- dies back somewhat every late autumn whether it's cold or not. Leaves some unsightly dead branches to remove in spring (gettting tougher to reach those now that it's over 10' tall) but not a big deal.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Huntsville, Alabama
Ohatchee, Alabama
Davis, California
Los Angeles, California
San Diego, California
Jacksonville, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Horse Cave, Kentucky
Saint Francisville, Louisiana
Sulphur, Louisiana
Petal, Mississippi
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Emerald Isle, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Portland, Oregon
Bluffton, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Ladys Island, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Loris, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Denton, Texas
Shepherd, Texas
Norfolk, Virginia

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