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