Portulacaria, Elephant Bush, Elephant Food, Purslane Tree, Spekboom 'Variegata'

Portulacaria afra

Family: Didiereaceae
Genus: Portulacaria (por-tew-luh-KAR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: afra (AF-ruh) (Info)
Cultivar: Variegata
View this plant in a garden


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Good Fall Color

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


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)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Goodyear, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Tucson, Arizona

Carlsbad, California

Castro Valley, California

Clayton, California

Clovis, California

Fairfield, California

Fresno, California

Garden Grove, California

Los Angeles, California

Menlo Park, California

Mission Viejo, California

Oceanside, California

Reseda, California

Rowland Heights, California

San Diego, California

San Jose, California

San Leandro, California

San Lorenzo, California

Santee, California

Spring Valley, California

Tarzana, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Bartow, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Seminole, Florida

Venice, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Morrison, Illinois

Wichita, Kansas

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Clinton, Mississippi

Henderson, Nevada

Bronx, New York

Southold, New York

Charlotte, North Carolina

Cleveland, Ohio

Duncan, Oklahoma

Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania

North Augusta, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Liberty Hill, Texas

Mansfield, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 21, 2016, kellymarie250 from San Antonio, TX wrote:

I live in San Antonio, Texas. I planted mine in the front yard three years ago because it can tolerate drought and handles full sun. It has doubled in size. I propagated branches and planted directly in the ground. Seven months later, they are doing well. The roots are thin, but the plant is healthy. I have not experienced a freeze yet and I'm curious about other's experience with cold temperatures. I understand, but cannot verify that the plant can handle 25 degrees.


On Jun 1, 2015, Anyakate from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I live in Phoenix and this plant loves a container or a garden here. I leave mine potted close to the house outdoors all year long and they survive the winter-the proximity to the house protects it even during freezing temperatures. I was fortunate today to see mine "bloom" although it's more of a spore collection off of a leaf rather than a flower. Love this plant!


On Dec 29, 2009, wormfood from Lecanto, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Lost it's leaves after spraying with organic insecticide oil. They are coming back, but slowly.


On Apr 4, 2006, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The plant is lovely, but I have difficulty growing most succulents because of our copious rainfall and high humidity. I didn't grow the one in my photo, but a member of my club did. I believe it was grown under a cover.


On Jul 24, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

A slow growing plant that's easy to care for. Mine is in mostly shade, hanging under an umbrella.


On Oct 5, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very low growing plant, and makes a great bonsai, compared to the non-variegated form, at least, which tends to grow more upright and huge. This form has reddish branches, too. It's a slower growing plant as well. Very drought tolerant. Never seen mine bloom, though.