Will my variegated tapioca recover from the cold?

Q: I have a variegated tapioca plant that suffered in that recent cold snap, will it come back? 



a close up of a green plant: Variegated Tapioca is the ornamental version of the tropical agricultural plant, cassava. The plants grow best with long periods, 8-9 months of warm weather. Plant in beds for a pop of color or in containers around the pool for interest. Try bright blue pots for an eye-popping combination. Keep the kids and pets away from the roots, they are toxic if ingested.


© Carol Cloud Bailey
Variegated Tapioca is the ornamental version of the tropical agricultural plant, cassava. The plants grow best with long periods, 8-9 months of warm weather. Plant in beds for a pop of color or in containers around the pool for interest. Try bright blue pots for an eye-popping combination. Keep the kids and pets away from the roots, they are toxic if ingested.

— Richard, via email

A: Pretty, tropical Manihot esculenta variegata is also known as ornamental bitter cassava, ornamental or variegated tapioca, and yuca.  It is classified in the same plant family, Euphorbiaceae, as poinsettia, croton, crown-of-thorns and copperplant. 

Native to Brazil and Paraguay, it is a large shrub or tree, perennial in warm areas. The deeply divided leaves have three to seven finger-like lobes and are up to 24 inches across, but most often in Florida only 10-12 inches across. The leaf color is vibrant, with red petioles (stems), grass-green edges and a creamy-lemon colored variegation in the middle.

The flowers are small, less than 1 inch across and found in shades of yellow, pink

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