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PlantFiles: Tapioca Plant, Cassava, Yuca, Manioc, Mandioca
Manihot esculenta

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Manihot (MAN-ee-hot) (Info)
Species: esculenta (es-kew-LEN-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Manihot utilissima
Synonym:Manihot aipi

23 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

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

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

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

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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11 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive plantman001 On Mar 20, 2014, plantman001 from Apopka, FL wrote:

Good information about growing and propagating this plant is available here:

Positive Veltorio On Mar 15, 2014, Veltorio from Bartow, FL wrote:

I am just getting started with my gardening efforst so haven't started growing this yet but just started looking for a good place to buy cutting. I used to like Yuca but my wife is from Colombia and from her family cooking etc have grown to Love it. I actually use it to thicken my Caldo Gallego; bean soup. If anyone knows a good place to purchase let me know. I always think that is a good addition on posts on each plant

Positive greentoo On Aug 21, 2012, greentoo from Carpinteria, CA wrote:

I am growing this plant for our plant sale at he end of August. I have been impressed with its growth in 1 gal. pots with little water and fertilizer. The foliage is striking. These are seedlings I dug and potted up in April 2012.

I fell in love with the variegated form last year and ordered 2 plants from a well known on line nursery. They arrived in November and I was unable to get them to thrive indoors and lost them both. My investment was wasted but I will try again.

Positive martenfisher On Dec 29, 2011, martenfisher from Crystal River, FL wrote:

I would say the 4-6 foot measure is a bit off. My variegated averages that height by my regular green sweet cassava easily gets 12 foot high. Higher if it would not freeze. At first frost I cut the stalk to the ground. I take the stalk inside and keep it until spring. While the frost are still mild I bury 6 inch portions of the stalk in rows. The little portions will then sprout and give me another 12 foot plant from just that little piece in on season. Stalks should be brown with bark. The green stalk don't last the winter.

Positive Shellsort On Oct 19, 2009, Shellsort from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a nice decorative plant and I have planted it in my front yard as a small forest of privacy. It is easy to grow from cuttings. PLEASE NOTE:THIS PLANT IS POISONOUS. It must be prepared properly before it can be eaten. All of the moisture in the plant contains dangerous levels of poison. If you decide to prepare and eat it (usually served as a flat bread) please thoroughly research methods for extraction of the poisonous part.

Positive QueenB On Jul 7, 2007, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I'm growing this successfully in 8b, but just barely. It's growing on the west side of my house, partially protected from the north. It does suffer some freeze damage in the winter, and so far has grown to about 15 ft. in two years. The green tips have frozen back and made it just that much bushier the following spring. This is the first year it has fruited, so I guess I need to "nip them in the bud" before they explode so I don't have palmbob's problem!

The wood tends to be kind of brittle, so if you have low branches and kids or pets, expect them to be broken kind of easily.

Positive AuNatural On Mar 9, 2007, AuNatural from W'Ville, WA wrote:

M. esculenta (cassava) is an important root crop in Latin America and Africa and is usually propogated via cuttings. It is difficult to start from seed, needing 'slash and burn' conditions and dry heat -- bare soil temps of 90F+ .

I think leaves in Palmbob's photos look more like the 'hardy' tapioca, M. grahamii.

Neutral wsawyer On Aug 27, 2006, wsawyer from Willis, TX wrote:

a most beautiful small tree that comes back every year if frozen. very exotic. am researching recipes you will enjoy as yard or patio plant

Positive jtmiller On Jul 11, 2006, jtmiller from Pasadena, TX wrote:

I found this plant growing in a friends nursery and immediately asked what it was. I was really attracted to the foliage in that is is very unusual. I had to have one. I'm always on the lookout for what I like to call "Dr Seuss" know, things that look like they are sraight from a story of his. At any rate, he gave me the plant for free and it has grown so well. I aggree with what others have said in that when it blooms you can hear the bees working the flowers from a far distance. Mine has made a canopy shape and has done well in the winter time. Living near Houston Texas, our winters are usually mild so it has not experienced severe freezes, which I'm sure it could not survive. I have found young plants pop up in the most strange places and fairly far away from the mother plant. However it is simple to dig them up, place in a small pot and give it to friends. I have to rate this high in that for me and my has been an awesome plant!

Neutral foodiesleuth On Jul 8, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant is quite invasive in our area. My son has an allergic reaction to touching any part of the plant, so it falls to me to try to tame it.

Having grown up in Cuba, I'm quite familiar with yuca (cassava) and love to eat it, but frankly have not taken the trouble to dig and process the tubers for culinary purposes....we just want them out of here.....!

In Cuba (or anywhere a Cuban lives), boiled "yuca con mojo" is a very popular dish. This mojo is not to be confused with the mojito rum drink. Mojo sauce is a combination of olive oil, onions, garlic, cumin and sour orange or lime can be found bottled under several labels in Latino markets.

Positive xyris On Aug 18, 2003, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I don't grow it for the tubers, although since I like fried yuca I should dig some up and try to prepare them. I grow Manihot esculenta as a bold temporary fast growing screening or foliage backdrop plant. All I have to do is cut a mature stem into about 8 inch sections, stick them about halfway or more into the moist sand, and they have rooted and are sending out new shoots in a week or so. It grows about 6 to 8 feet in the first season, then from 8 to 12 feet after that. In winter, it loses its leaves and the stems die back, but not usually to the ground. But it is so lush in the summer. My plants have not produced seed, so I have not had a problem with seedlings coming up.

Positive extremegarden On Jun 16, 2003, extremegarden from North Port, FL wrote:

I fell in love with the Tapioca tri-color manihot/ cassava plant. They seem to be difficult to find, but are beautiful! They enjoy heat, moisture, and sun. They respond well to a balanced fertilizer and will reward you with vividly marked varigated leaves up to 12" across, attatched to the trunk by bright red stems. They seem to be fairly tolerant of pests here in South Florida, but are not tolerant of temperatures below 45 degrees. Cold temps cause gradual leaf drop, but trees should produce new leaves when the avg. temp remain above 60 degrees. They add so much color and tropical interest that I'm sure more people would enjoy them if they were more available. I am going to attempt to start some cuttings as my trees are getting rather tall (6' to 7') and would like to spread more of this color around. If anyone has had experience with cuttings or layering of this plant, I would love some advice. I will try to post some pictures of my tapioca's.

Neutral Terry On Dec 18, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

As a cautionary side note, the tubers must be properly prepared (steeped in water) before they can be eaten. In their raw state, they contain cyanide.

Positive Chamma On Dec 18, 2002, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

The large tubers of this tree are the source of tapioca and cassava. Cassava is the processed meal by grinding the cooked root and tapioca is the dried starch grains which after being re- hydrated, re-cooked and sweetened make a delicious pudding.


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

Huntsville, Alabama
Carpinteria, California
Glendora, California
Hayward, California
Poway, California
Santa Barbara, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Apopka, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida
North Port, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Royston, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Austin, Texas
Belton, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Pasadena, Texas

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