Manihot esculenta Tapioca Tree
Tapioca Tree is grown around the world for its nutritious roots, but its ornate lacy leaves are gorgeous. They look like cut out paper snowflakes. This fancy tree looks tropical, but is easy to grow in any warm climate and small enough to thrive in a container.
Manihot is a woody shrub native to South America. It can be pruned to a tree shape and will form a slender trunk. In spring, deeply cut leaves cover the tree, casting amazing shadows on a nearby wall. In spring, tiny green flowers bring so many eager bees that the tree seems to hum.
Dangling seedpods follow. They look like miniature basketballs, stripes and all, and when they're ripe, they explode with a loud bang, sending the seeds flying. The seeds look like tiny turtles. This is one entertaining tree.
Tapioca loses its leaves in fall and should be cut back for a nice shape the following year. That's about all the care it needs. It thrives in sandy clay soil with only brief winter rains. Drought tolerant, full sun, partial shade, total neglect, all good. Zones 8 through 11. Baby trees may sprout in spring but are easy to weed out.