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Variegated tapioca

Location

Pavilion, Walkways & Garden Areas

Variegated tapioca

  • Common Name:  Variegated Tapioca, Ubi Kayu, Variegated Cassava, Manioc, Yuca
  • Scientific name: Manihot esculenta ‘variegata’
  • Family name: Euphorbiaceae
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Height: 6 to 10 ft
  • Width: 6 to 10 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA zones 10 through 12
  • Light needs: Part shade to full sun
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers an evenly moist, well-drained, fertile, and sandy soil. Can tolerate a wide pH range (pH 5.5-8.5)
  • Moisture: Average water needs – keep soil moist, but not soggy
  • Drought tolerance: Moderate – can tolerate some dryness but does best in humid conditions
  • Pests/Diseases: Can be infected by viruses, insects, or fungus, especially when in overly wet conditions
  • Growing conditions: Should be grown in a warm, humid, relatively sunny area with consistently moist soil. It does best when its soil is enriched from compost. It is a fast grower and can get very large, so it should be given plenty of room to grow. It is not frost tolerant and will die back if exposed to freezing temperatures, so it should be kept indoors in a large container in regions prone to frost.
  • Characteristics: This plant is a semi-woody perennial. Stems are light green, and petioles are brittle and bright red. Leaves are large and palmately lobed, yellow in the center with irregular green edges. The yellow markings fade to creamy white with age. The roots are large and oblong, and well-known for being rich in starch. Flowers are small, greenish-white and grow on short panicles, and are rarely seen. Fruit is ovoid and capsule-like.
  • Propagation: By stem cuttings
  • Wildlife: This plant is rarely eaten by wildlife as most parts of it contain cyanide compounds. Flowers are typically pollinated by moths.
  • Facts: Tapioca is grown in many parts of the world as a food crop, as its roots are high in starch. Tapioca varieties are typically sorted into two groups: bitter and sweet varieties. A use of tapioca that many people are familiar with is tapioca pearls, which are made from the starch of the roots and are a main component of bubble tea. Variegated tapioca is rarely harvested for its roots and is instead used as an ornamental plant for its leaves.
  • Designer considerations: Its variegated leaves provide contrast against purely green foliage. It’s large, palmlike leaves make it a good choice for tropical gardens. It looks best planted next to other tropical plants such as banana and castor bean. It can also be used as a specimen plant due to its large size and interesting foliage.