Elephant Bush Vs Jade Plant: Key Similarities & Differences

When it comes to the Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant, there is a lot of confusion as a lot of people assume they are the same plant!

Elephant Bushes are much larger than Jade Plants and are often used for hedges or bonsai, whereas Jade Plants are often kept as houseplants for decor.

Keep reading to learn all about these two plants and the similarities and differences between them.

A Quick Overview Of Both Plants

Before we get into the similarities and differences between the Elephant Bush vs Jade Plant, here’s a quick overview of both of these plants.

Elephant Bush

Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra) is a large, bushy succulent native to South Africa. Rapidly growing, it can reach heights of up to 15 feet tall, with long, brownish stems and small, fleshy, oval-shaped leaves.

This drought-tolerant plant is often used in xeriscaping and as a bonsai plant. It produces inconspicuous, small flowers that are not star-shaped.

An elephant bush up close with lots of purple and green leaves
Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Up Close

The leaves of Elephant Bush are edible and have a mild, tart flavor, making them a popular ingredient in salads or cooked dishes. The plant also has air-purifying properties and is known to harbor some medicinal benefits, such as treating skin irritations and inflammation.

Some key features of the Elephant Bush include:

  • Long, brownish stems
  • Small, oval-shaped leaves
  • Drought tolerance
  • Edible leaves with a tart flavor
  • Air-purifying abilities

Jade Plant

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) is a smaller, slow-growing succulent plant also native to South Africa. It rarely surpasses 6 feet when grown indoors, and the stems display a maroon-red hue.

A potted Jade Plant on a windowsill

The plant has thick, glossy green leaves, typically taking on a rounded, spoon-like shape. Jade Plants are known for their beautiful star-shaped flowers that bloom in shades of white or pink, usually during the winter months.

A few distinctive characteristics of the Jade Plant include:

  • Reddish-maroon stems
  • Glossy, rounded leaves
  • Star-shaped flowers in white or pink shades
  • Toxicity to humans and animals

Key Differences

Both Elephant Bush and Jade Plant are unique in their own ways, so let’s explore some of the differences to see which plant is more suited for you

Growth Habit and Size

Elephant Bush and Jade Plants differ significantly in their growth habits and size.

While the Jade Plant is slower to develop, growing only around two inches per year and reaching a height of about three to ten feet depending on whether they are planted inside or outside, the Elephant Bush can grow much larger, reaching up to 15 feet or more.

Appearance and Physical Characteristics

The two plants also have different leaf shapes, sizes, and stem colors.

Jade Plant leaves are generally dark green in color, whereas Elephant Bush leaves are smaller and come in various shades of green and red.

Leaf Size

Elephant Bush has much smaller leaves compared to Jade Plants.

This difference in leaf size contributes to their overall appearance and how much space they occupy.

Flowers and Blooms

Jade Plant produces small, pink, or white flowers in late winter or early spring, while Elephant Bush has smaller flowers that bloom in the summer. The difference in their blooming seasons and flower appearances sets them apart.

Bonsai Trees

When it comes to bonsai cultivation, Elephant Bush is a popular choice due to its growth habit, making it an excellent candidate for bonsai displays.

However, Jade Plant can also be shaped into a bonsai but may require more effort due to its slower growth rate.


Jade Plants are considered mildly toxic to pets, with ingestion potentially causing vomiting and other negative symptoms; however, the Elephant Bush is non-toxic, making it a safer option for pet owners.

Sunlight Tolerance

Both Elephant Bushes and Jade Plants need bright sunlight to thrive.

However, Elephant Bush can tolerate more direct sunlight than Jade Plant, which prefers some shade to prevent leaf scorch.


Jade Plants are often used as decorative plants in homes and offices, while Elephant Bush can be utilized as a hedge in warm climates or as bonsai.

Their different growth habits and sizes make them suitable for various uses and applications in indoor and outdoor settings.

That’s pretty much it for the differences – now let’s take a look at what is similar between these two plants.


It should come as no surprise that there are a few similarities between these plants, given how often they are confused for each other.

Leaf Shape

Both Jade Plant and Elephant Bush have thick, waxy leaves that help them retain water, a common characteristic among succulents.

While the Jade Plant has plump, balloon-shaped leaves, the Elephant Bush’s leaves are smaller and slightly more elongated but still very similar in shape. Their similar leaf shapes contribute to their frequent confusion.

Origins and Habitat

The Jade Plant and Elephant Bush share a similar origin and originate in South Africa, and they both thrive in subtropical and tropical regions.

These plants thrive in well-draining soil and can tolerate arid conditions, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor growth.

Can Be Grown Indoors And Outdoors

Both the Jade Plant and Elephant Bush are highly adaptable and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. They are popular indoor houseplants due to their low-maintenance requirements and attractive appearance but are also commonly grown outside as well.

Additionally, they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making them perfect choices for garden enthusiasts in various climates.

Propagation Methods

Jade Plant and Elephant Bush have similar propagation methods, where cuttings can be taken from the mother plant to create new plants.

Both plants can be successfully propagated by gently removing leaves or short stem sections and allowing them to callous over for a day or two. After the callous has formed, the cuttings can be placed in well-draining soil and watered sparingly until they establish root systems.

In Summary

Hopefully, this article has cleared up all the similarities and differences between the Elephant Bush and Jade Plant for you.

Both of these plants make great choices for indoor or outdoor plants to add to your collection, but it’s important to keep the size difference in mind.

If you’re interested in reading more plant comparisons, you can see our most recent articles below:

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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