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Products > Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark'
Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark' - Corky Bark Elephant's Food
Image of Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Didiereaceae
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Lavender
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [P. afra 'Frank']
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark' (Cork Bark Elephant Food) - A slow growing succulent shrub with the main trunk developing thick fissured corky gray bark as it ages. As with the typical form of the species, this cultivar also has the reddish-brown stems holding 1/2 inch long emerald green leaves. The lavender-pink flowers are rarely seen but in recent drought years have been more evident on other cultivars and likely might make their appearance on this one as well.

Plant in sun or shade with little or no supplemental irrigation. Should prove hardy to at least 25 F. As with all other cultivars of the species, this plant should prove to be a very easy to grow succulent that works as a great bonsai plant or small specimen shrub and the unusual corky bark is an added bonus. This fissured and corky bark takes several years to develop and up until the time it does this plant looks identical to the typical form of the species.

Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark' is a 2015 introduction through the Huntington Botanical Gardens' International Succulent Introduction program as ISI 2015-38 - the page about it on the Huntington's website at Portulacaria 'Cork Bark' ISI 2015-38. It was selected by bonsai specialist Dave Bogan who first noted it in a Florida nursery in the 1960s. Its corky trunk was first thought to be caused by a fungal disease but later recognized as a natural aspect of the plant with bright light and lean conditions seeming to promote the best fissured bark, but it should also be noted that this is a slow process, so requires considerable patience. Frank Yee, a Huntington Botanical Gardens bonsai specialist friend, rooted cuttings to provide for this release and we were fortunate to get a few to start our production on this interesting addition to our Portulacaria offerings. For more information on the species see our listing for Portulacaria afra. We also grow: Portulacaria afra 'Prostrate Form - a prostrate plant with all green foliage, Portulacaria afra 'Skyscraper' - a narrow upright green foliage form, Portulacaria afra 'Variegata' - an upright plant with white variegated leaves, Portulacaria afra forma macrophylla - a large leafed form, Portulacaria afra 'Aurea' -a large plant with yellow new growth and Portulacaria afra 'Medio-picta' - a stunning low growing plant with pink stems and leaves that have a wide central cream stripe. All are great drought tolerant plants useful in the landscape or as container specimens. We have grown this cultivar since 2017. 

This information about Portulacaria afra 'Cork Bark' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.