It is not easy to ignore the charm of beautiful succulents. The thick, evergreen foliage can instantly catch anyone’s attention. This is why many collectors seek out Elephant bush or Jade plants.
These two are ideal options as houseplants. However, they are often mistaken or even mislabeled for one another. Despite looking pretty similar, elephant bush and jade plant are different species.
If you assume these two plants are the same, we will break down their differences. So stay tuned to learn everything about the comparison between elephant bush and jade plant.
Table of Contents
What is an Elephant Bush?
As the name suggests, an elephant bush is something edible for elephants. The name also implies that this plant grows as a bush. Elephant bush is a common name for the Portulacaria Afra plant.
This plant is famous for its tiny leaves. This plant originally came from South Africa. This plant is a member of the Didiereaceae family.
In addition to the Elephant bush, this plant is commercially known as the spekboom or succulent elephant plant. This plant grows to variable heights due to its thick and strong stems.
Its average height won’t exceed a few meters, though. In the wild, it grows as a shrub. It probably will be at most 6 meters tall.
The elephant bush is a flowering plant, but it is not common to bloom as a houseplant. You can see it bloom when kept outdoors.
The ideal outdoor atmosphere for growing the elephant bush is in US hardiness zones 9 and 11. Keep in mind that this is not a cold-hardy plant.
What is a Jade Plant?
The Jade plant, or Crassula Ovata, is another popular succulent. It is a highly preferred houseplant all over the world. This plant is a member of the Crassulaceae family and descends from the Crassula genus.
It falls into the category of slow-growing, low-maintenance plants. It grows huge and looks like a tree when fully mature.
The plant is trendy due to its small, green leaves with an oval appearance. Under the right growth conditions, the jade plant can develop a slight reddish tinge on its leaves.
The jade plant’s leaves, as well as its stems, are thick and fleshy. The jade plant’s natural habitat is South Africa. This plant won’t mind being grown indoors, but it can thrive outdoors as well.
The best hardiness zone for this plant is 10 or higher. Ideally, your jade plant needs full sunlight to grow well. This plant won’t tolerate poor natural light, unlike most philodendrons. However, harsh sun rays are not the right kind of lighting required for this plant.
In this case, the plant’s leaves will burn. The jade plant is not a cold-hardy plant, so grow it when it is below 10 degrees Celsius. This plant is commonly known as the money tree or the lucky plant.
What are the Differences between an Elephant Bush and a Jade Plant?
These plants look almost identical, which has led to common confusion among growers. Both plants have similar foliage and stem characteristics.
Their growth needs are identical as well. But aside from all these factors, these plants are different. They are not even closely related.
1. Leaf shape
The leaves of both plants are green, but they do not have the same shape. The leaves of the jade plant are always oval.
As for the leaves of the elephant bush, they are more on the rounded side. Sometimes, you can find a few oval leaves in an elephant bush, but the dominant leaf shape is round.
2. Leaf size
Another distinguishing feature of distinguishing elephant bush and jade plant is the size of their leaves. Both plants indeed have small leaves but are not the same size. The jade plant has larger leaves than those of the elephant bush.
The jade plant’s leaves can be double the size of the leaves of an elephant bush. Mature jade plant leaves are nearly 5 cm long, whereas elephant bush leaves are about 2 cm long.
3. Plant size
There is a vast difference between the mature size of an elephant bush and a jade plant. In the wild, the elephant bush grows much larger. However, the household versions of this plant do not grow as large.
A mature elephant bush reaches a maximum height of 6 meters. The mature size of a jade plant is nearly 2 meters long and spreads about 1 meter wide.
4. Stem color
The elephant bush and the jade plant have thick stems that allow them to grow upright. However, the colors of their stems are different. The elephant bush plant has brown stems, whereas the jade plant has maroon-red ones.
Both plants produce flowers when grown outdoors. Elephant bush and jade plants barely bloom in an indoor garden. But this is where the flowers’ similarities end. The shapes and colors of both plants’ flowers are different.
The elephant bush plant has whitish flowers that grow along the bush branches. They grow in rounded clusters. On the other hand, the jade plant’s flowers are pinkish.
The flower clusters are shaped like stars. Additionally, they are usually located at the end of each branch.
6. Natural home
Both plants originally came from the jungles of South Africa and Mozambique. However, they grow naturally in different areas.
For instance, you can find the elephant bush plant in sandy regions, whereas the jade plant is more commonly found in rocky ones.
Both plants’ almost identical physical appearance might imply they are close family members. However, the elephant bush and jade plant are not from the same family.
Additionally, they are from separate genera. The elephant bush comes from the Didiereaceae family, whereas the jade plant descends from the Crassulaceae family.
While both plants are used to purify the air and decorate the interiors, they can’t be used for everyday purposes. For instance, the elephant bush is non-toxic. It is a natural food for elephants and many other plant-eating animals.
Additionally, it is a secondary ingredient in many popular local dishes in South Africa. However, the jade plant can’t be used for the same purpose, as it is considered mildly toxic.
Elephant Bush vs. Jade Plant: Are they the same?
No, the elephant bush and the Jade plant are not the same plants. They have similar physical appearances. However, they are distinct varieties of different families.
So, they are not cousins or even related. The family of the elephant bush is the Didiereaceae, whereas the jade plant comes from the Crassulaceae family.
The leaves of the jade plant are strictly oval, whereas those of the elephant bush are round. The jade plant has larger leaves but is smaller in size. The stems of the elephant bush are brown, whereas those of the jade plant are red.
The flowers of both plants are different in shape and color. As for the natural habitat, both plants are native to South Africa but grow in different areas. Lastly, the elephant bush is not toxic, but you can’t say the same about the jade plant.