Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I've been remiss about taking photos lately. And I hate posting pictures of plants that are not currently in bloom. So, I'm pulling (a non-blooming) one from the archives.

Below are shots of Sempervivum tectorum, from the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

I'm fairly sure the plants on the lower left hand corner are Sempervivum tectorum, or common houseleek. There are about 40 species of Sempervivum and while I am sure the larger plant on the right belongs to the genus, I can't attest to the species name.

That said, there are many cultivars of S. tectorum and the plant also qualifies as one of the most frost-tolerant succulents available, so the larger-leaved specimen could be another hybrid.

It's certainly a beauty:

It's pretty obvious what the Latin roots are for the genus name; semper means 'always' and vivum means 'living.' And indeed all winter long this succulent maintains its leaves. But it thrives in hot, Mediterranean climates since the spongy leaves can retain water for weeks.

The common name 'hens and chicks' is also applied to this plant as the main rosette will eventually bear smaller offshoots of baby, or 'chick,' plants. The name for the most popular species, tectorum, is derivative from the Latin word for roof, tecti-, as the plant was planted on some of the oldest of green roofs, for the questionable purpose of deterring lightning strikes.


HB said...

In the Winter, the squirrels living in our Backyard eat the hens-and-chicks like they're artichokes. For once, I'm happy they're snacking in my garden. Hens-and-chicks'll take over if you take your eyes off of them.

Anonymous said...

This is not Sempervivum tectorum!

You can see how semps look at my semp blog