The name “Crassula ovata” is synonym of “Crassula portulacea”, so we will provide a unique botanical chart for Crassula ovata and Crassula portulacea, which are actually the same plant. Other synonyms are:
Crassula ovata is native to South Africa, in particular in Eastern Cape province and KwaZulu-Natal valley. It’s often surrounded by many species of Euphorbias and Aloes, togheter with many other succulents.
Its preferred habitat are rocky hillsides.
Crassula ovata is a shrub with erect, stocky, gnarled stems, much branched, that can reach an height of 2 meters and are often naked at their base, with a dense foliage on the top. With the age the lumpy appearance of the trunk and the peculiar, apical arrangement of the leaves make it look like an ancient, weird tree. Younger branches are succulent and grey-green. Leaves have an intense, dark green colour, often with a hint of red in the edges. They are 3-5 centimeters long and 2-3 centimeters wide, elliptic or ovate, arranged in opposite couples as in other Crassulas.
Blossomings are abundant and they occur, in its natural habitat, in June-August, when in South Africa it’s Winter. In the Northern hemisphere blossoming occurs in Winter, from December to February. Inflorescences are rounded heads (thyrses) with many many starry, 5-petaled, white flowers with a pinkish hint in the center.
Crassula ovata is a fast-growing, tough plant, not so difficult to cultivate. It’s the ideal plant for a gravel, rocky garden. As other Crassulas, it needs a well-draining, sandy substrate and a sunny spot (but not immediately behind a glass, for example on a windowsill: better then outdoors in a sunny spot). It tolerates cold temperatures (minimum -1ºC), windy, dry climates. To increase cold tolerance it’s better to almost suspend waterings in Winter. During the vegetative phase, in Spring and Summer, water it moderately but always waiting for thee soil to dry up before each intervention.
Propagation can be easily realized through stem cuttings or leaf cuttings to be rooted in Summer in a sandy substrate. It’s also possible to use seeds, to be sown in Spring, Summer, Autumn.
Leaves and roots of Crassula portulacea are used by local populations as a source of food and a remedy against epilepsy and diarrhoea (leaves). Roots are cooked and eatten togheter with milk. In Germany, USA and Far East this plant this plant is deemed to bring money and luck, that’s why it’s called “Money tree” or “Penny plant”.
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