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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Manihot grahamii - Hardy Tapioca

Hardy Tapioca, or Cassava, is a hardy tropical plant added to landscapes for a cool tropical look. Reportedly dying to the ground in cold winters, sprouting up to a large shrub, flowering and fruiting in one season. In warmer climates it dies back to woody parts. Eventually growing with an upright to spreading habit. Reportedly a very fast grower, prolific seed producer and weedy in tropical areas. Potential of reaching 15 or 20' tall in a matter of a few years. That will be interesting to see as one was just planted down the street from me.



Leaves are deciduous, alternate,  palmately compound, almost round in outline, 8-10" across. The leaflets can be almost lanceolate or shaped like these, which I have no idea how to describe but some mention Snowflake like. Leaves have red petioles and the centers of the leaf is pretty cool looking. Most references say 11 leaflets, but plants don't read books. This is a great looking leaf, though the one above was not anywhere near as snowflake like.





Flowers are quite interesting. The whole inflorescence appears reddish brown from a distance. I thought I had missed the flowers when I was approaching.




Turns out the stalks are reddish brown. Individual flowers are yellowish red, bell shaped with flared petals(?).





Thanks to Luen Miller for help identifying this specimen.

Misidentification:
Pretty hard to miss the leaves if you can get close enough to them.

Location:
Aptos
420 Clubhouse Dr. Brand new as of 11/14

Santa Cruz
212 Pennsylvania St

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