1 Jade confusion

Jade confusion.

Internet searches for ‘Jade plants’ bring up only Crassula ovata but, at least in Queensland many people know Portulacaria arfra as the Jade plant.
The issue is confused by both having ‘Jade’ as/or in their common name.
Also Portulacaraia used to be in the Crassula genus with Portulacaria afra being know as Crassula portulacaria.

Using the main differentiating features below it should not be too difficult to tell them apart.


Crassula ovata

Portulacaria afra

Common name


Dwarf or Small-leaf Jade.
Common form.

0.5 to 1 m high shrubs

shrubs to 2 or 3 m

Maximum size.

around 3 m high

15 m high in dense thickets

Leaf size.

to 7 cm long by 3 cm

most under 1.3 cm long

Leaf shape.

variable obovate broadly elliptic rounded

round, occasionally obovate


Commonly seen

very rarely seen in cultivation

Flowers open

terminal first

lowest first


5 sepals

2 sepals


5 pointed lobes

4 or 5

Petal colour

white +/- pink tints

pink to mauve

The only difficulty could be with the dwarf forms of Crassula ovata that can have round leaves about the same size as those of Portulacaria afra.
As illustrated below their form is different.