The jade plant, also known as the money plant and stone lotus, is a succulent native to Africa. While it is not a commonly cited source of home remedies, some folk remedies are associated with the plant.
Jade plants are succulents native to arid portions of Africa. In their native habitat or similar environs they can grow up to 10 feet tall, with a thick, meaty trunk supporting short branches covered with small, chubby leaves with a moist and fleshy interior. The plants, much like aloes and cactus plants, have evolved to retain the limited water to which they have access. They use their interior as a reservoir, and their shiny leaves and the waxy skin of their trunk and branches allow very little evaporation. The jade plant also uses a form of photosynthesis called CAM--crassulacean acid metabolism-- a water frugal method named specifically after the group of species, though also used by other arid environment succulents.
The jade plant is a highly popular plant, as an outdoor plant in no-freeze climates and as an indoor plant almost everywhere. The glossy leaves, wide range of forms and colors, and the ease of maintenance delight owners. Even the houseplants will bloom if provided enough heat, light, and carefully fertilized. The plants make superb and long lived bonsai, responding well to pruning, restricted roots, but badly to wiring techniques. The soft, fleshy trunks tend to scar under the pressure from thin wires.
Jade plant isn't a major element of herbal or alternate medicine, nor of standard medicine, but it is recommended for warts in folk remedies. In this use, a leaf is cut open and the moist flesh is bound over the wart for a series of days. If the treatment is successful, the wart falls off after prolonged exposure. The plant is also used as a treatment for nausea, and in Africa it is used to treat epilepsy, diarrhea, corns, and to purge the intestines. In China, a variety of jade plant with pointed leaves, called the stone lotus, is used to treat diabetic symptoms.
These uses, however, are marginal. The the jade plant is primarily grown for its beauty, adaptability, and ease of culture.
Jade plants are considered non-toxic to humans. The plant, however, is lightly documented in medical literature, and you shouldn't proceed without caution. External applications should be begun in very small test patches of the skin, and internal use shouldn't be attempted without precautions and supervision until you're certain that no harm will follow.
Do not attempt to use a jade plant to treat pets. It is listed as toxic to dogs, and while some recommend it for diabetic cats, others consider it toxic to felines, also.
Growing Jade Plant.
Jade plant is a very low maintenance plant. The greatest problems likely to be encountered are over-watering, freezing or severe frost, and white flies. A house plant seldom exposed to direct sun should be slowly acclimated or the leaves may sunburn, but once adjusted to sunlight a jade plant will do well in direct sunlight. Jade plants can go as long as 6 months maximum without water, but a light monthly watering with regular checks to be sure that the plant is healthy is usually about right. Remember, in general it is safer to underwater a jade plant than to overwater it. A plant beginning to wither or grow "skinny leaves" can be helped quickly and usually successfully with a single watering, but rot can destroy the plant, leaving only the option of trying to save and start healthy cuttings as a final option. Hard frost can damage a jade plant, and a true freeze will kill it.
However if a jade plant gets strong to moderate sunshine, modest water, well drained soil, occasional feedings, and temperatures between the mid-40s all the way up to "way too hot for humans," the plant will usually survive very well in almost all situations.