Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Jabily, Elephant Tree
Operculicarya decaryi

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Operculicarya (oh-per-koo-lee-KAIR-yuh) (Info)
Species: decaryi (de-KAR-yee) (Info)

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

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

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 40 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive mitsukurina On Nov 17, 2012, mitsukurina from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

Grows quite fast and without issue in the ground in Santa Barbara, CA. I have to prune my one metre tall plant (diameter approx. 25 centimetres) three times each summer with shears as though it were a hedge.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Jul 30, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

And you can add the bay area as warm enough for this tree to grow outdoors. My potted plant has made it through a few winters with normal leaf drop and return in spring.I can see with plenty of drainage(same old story) it growing in ground here. One of the hardier caudiciforms we can grow. It will also be happy to be kept in the same 8" pot forever.

Positive palmbob On Feb 29, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a wonderful little Madagascan bonsai tree that I have very good luck with. All reports say it is very frost sensitive, and mine has indeed gone deciduous in frosts and freezes (normally listed as an evergreen), but never had any damage done to the plant. It has repeatedly done fine in temps as low as 25F and often even retains its leaves. Sort of an expensive little tree, it is frequently sold as a natural bonsai in a small, shallow pot. It does grow well in well drained soild, too, and it can produce some amazing twisted branches/stems and even roots. The leaves are itty bitty deep, shiny green except in the cold of winter when they are a deep red-brown. My larger plant is not losing its leaves in the winter (had 3 so far) and it has had no problems with frost either (this one potted on the patio). I highly recommend this tree to anyone who likes bonsai or twisted, quirky little trees. Unlike most bonsai, though, this one is extremely drought tolerant, having a somewhat succulent trunk.

Most plants for sale in trade turn out to be females. Male plants are rare for some reason, and you obviously need one of each to make seed (dioecious). But if you have both, and they bloom (very dinky) same time, they are easy to pollinate, and seeds germinate readily with bottom heat. Also plant is easy to make cuttings of, and can be air-layered to make more plants. Just in the last 5 years this plant has become much more available and far cheaper.

IN Madagascar grows up to be a tree.. and if planted in the ground in warm, draining soil, it can for you too.. but looks better when constant trimmed/pinched back to create the bonsai look. Otherwise becomes a twisted gnarly mess of thin branches.


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

Mesa, Arizona
Bonsall, California
Corona, California
Hayward, California
Irvine, California
Reseda, California
San Diego, California
Santa Barbara, California
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Vista, California
Seffner, Florida
Dallas, Texas

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