What is Donkey's Tail?

Misty Amber Brighton

A donkey's tail, also known as a burro's tail or Sedum morganianum, is a plant with bud-like leaves along either side of a long stem. It can have bright pink or red flowers at the tips of these stalks. It grows well in warm climates and is thought to be native to Mexico and Honduras.

It is a good idea to wear latex gloves when transplanting or cutting a donkey's tail.
It is a good idea to wear latex gloves when transplanting or cutting a donkey's tail.

The leaves of a burro's tail somewhat resemble white grapes. The foliage may be light or dark green in color. It is normally very soft and smooth to the touch. The leaf stems are usually around two to four feet (.6 to 1.2 m) long, and often cascade downward. These features can make this plant a good choice for growing in a hanging basket.

Bright-colored flowers sometimes appear at the ends of the long, trailing stems. These blossoms are terminal, which means they stop the plant from growing any further while they are open. The timing of the blooms can be very unpredictable. Some plants may flower once or twice a year, while others do not bloom at all. Even so, blossoms are more likely to appear in spring or summer than during the fall or winter months.

A donkey's tail is considered to be a succulent plant, or one that retains water. This can contribute to the somewhat puffy appearance of this variety's leaves. It also helps this species to grow in hot, dry climates that may receive very little rainfall.

Although it is believed to have originated in Mexico or Honduras, it is often grown as a houseplant in many parts of the world. It can also be planted outdoors in warm areas of the United States, such as California or Florida. It should be placed in direct sunlight, if possible, but can sometimes tolerate being partially shaded.

This plant can occasionally cause an allergic reaction when it comes in contact with a person's skin. This can be especially true if the leaves of the plant are broken open. For this reason, it is often a good idea to wear latex gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when transplanting or cutting a donkey's tail. Growers may also want to leave the flowers intact rather than cutting them for a floral arrangement.

A donkey's tail is perennial, which means it has a lifespan of several years. Many gardeners find this plant to be hardy and easy to care for as long as it is protected from frost. It can be an interesting plant to decorate an office, patio, or sun room.

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