Friday, April 3, 2009

Plant profile: Crassula ovata (Jade Plant)

Crassula is a large genus of plants containing many species, including the popular succulent Jade Plant, Crassula ovata. They are common in San Francisco because - aside from their cute, fat little trunks and shiny, plump leaves - they thrive on neglect, and will propagate enthusiastically simply by allowing roughly the right end of a broken off leaf or stump to come into contact with something roughly resembling dirt. Or just concrete. Or air.

Latin name: Crassula ovata. ("KRASS-you-lah oh-VA-tah")
Common name: Jade Plant, Friendship Tree or Money Plant.
Originally from: Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Blooms: Usually around Christmas the Jades will be covered in whitish/pinkish star-shaped flowers that the bees love.
Light: Full sun to light shade.
Water: Rain is enough, but the occasional summer drink is nice if they start to look wrinkly.
Where to find in P. Garden: Along the wall, especially at the front. Also several live in the big central bed.

We eagerly collected a few small Jades when the garden first got going, and then one day I was driving down the street and saw several huge Jade branches freshly hacked out of someone's garden. I did a U-turn and piled them into the car, and then propped them against a wall in the garden with their ends in compost, fretfully wondering if this was a waste of time. Hah! It was paradise for the Jades - they went on to root quite happily giving us many instant large specimens that Matt grouped at the front of the bed against the wall, and I want to space out when they're rooted thoroughly.

I also retrieved a large Jade from a craigslister in the Mission and split it in two - it's doing great as well. We will never run out of Jades, that's for sure, though of course now I want the more unusual types of Crassula - variegated, red ones and tubular ones.

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