It is famous as a Stonecrop and belongs to the family of Crassulaceae, its succulent usually prostrate herbs with alternate opposite or whorled leaves, seldom in rosettes. Parts of the flower in fives or fours, with stamens twice as many as petals. 120 species, chiefly from the temperate and frigid zones of the north. Name from sedeo, to sit, referring to the prostrate habit of most species on rocks and stones, some of which are known as orpine, stone-crop, and live-for-ever. The sedums include annual and perennial plants of very variable habit, some are low and creep along the ground, forming moss-like tufts, while others are erect, and a few are somewhat woody.
It is fleshy mostly glabrous herbs, erect or decumbent, mainly with alternate, often imbricated, entire or dentate leaves, and perfect flowers in terminal often 1-sided cymes. Calyx 4-5-lobed. Petals 4-5, distinct. Stamens 8-10, perigynous, the alternate ones usually attached to the petals. Filaments filiform or subulate. Scales of the receptacle entire or emarginate. Carpels 4-5, distinct, or united at the base, spreading; styles usually short; ovules . Follicles many-seeeded or few-seeded.
Sedum species :
Sedum acre. Biting Stonecrop, Wall Pepper, or Poor Man’s Pepper :
This indigenous trailing yellow-flowered species is perhaps the commonest in cultivation. It spreads so rapidly that it is well suited to cover rock-work, etc. It is quite glabrous, with small scale-like imbricate leaves and numerous flowers rising only a few inches from the ground.
This is a well-known British plant, abundant in many parts of the country on rocks and dry banks and walls. It forms close masses of weak trailing stems, thickly crowded with bright-green, thick, short, almost globular, leaves. The flower-stems are nearly erect, about 2 inches high; flowers bright yellow in small crowded cymes. This is an invaluable species for clothing old walls, stones, and dry sandy banks. There is a very pretty variegated form, which in spring assumes the appearance of a carpet of gold when planted in breadth; the tips of the shoots become bright golden yellow as soon as growth begins in spring. It is therefore a valuable plant for spring massing in dry light soil, but does not succeed so well in richer and wetter soils; it is quite easy, however, on a small scale, to provide a dry enough position for it under any circumstances, and the plant is well worth an effort. Both the species and variety are capital plants for suburban gardens; and although the species manages to make a tolerable existence on the face of a dry rock, it does not object to richer pabulum, and luxuriates in any soil not absolutely boggy.
The variety is found in nurseries under the names Sedum Acre variegatum and Sedum Acre aureum.
Sedum album or White Stonecrop :
An elegant species, with numerous barren stems matting and creeping on the surface of the ground. The leaves are crowded, fleshy, and cylindrical. The flower-stems are erect, about 6 inches high, bearing pretty corymbs of pure white flowers, in some individuals also pink; they appear in June and July. Native of dry banks, rocks, and walls in Britain and Europe generally. Suitable alike for rockwork and beds and borders in light dry soil, and for clothing gravelly stony banks.
Sedum Albo-Roseum or White-And-Rose Stonecrop :
This plant grows about 18 inches high, with leafy upright stems. The leaves are broad oblong, widening upwards. Flowers in large terminal corymbs, white and rose, appearing in summer. Native of Japan. An excellent ornament of the mixed border, flourishing in ordinary garden soil.
Sedum Telephium or Sedum purpureum, Orpine Stonecrop :
This species grows erect, with hardunbranched stems, to the height of about 18 inches. The leaves are oblong and coarsely toothed, scattered irregularly on the stems – sometimes distant, but often nearly opposite, in pairs or threes. The flowers are in handsome pyramidal dense corymbs, and purple; they appear in August and September. Native of Britain and northern and central Europe. It is a useful border plant, and may be used to adorn semi-wild places, either in moderate shade or bright sunshine, if the natural vegetation is not too tall. One of its popular names – Livelong – is suggestive of its tenacity of life, and it possesses that quality in a high degree; in fact, if turned out roots uppermost, it will rear its head in spite of the rude inversion, and proceed to establish itself without delay on a new basis.
Sedum Anacampseros or Evergreen Stonecrop :
Avery distinct species, with numerous decumbent or creeping stems; the barren ones are crowded with wedge-shaped glaucous leaves in conical rosettes. Flower-stems nearly erect, somewhat leafy, and terminating in a dense corymb of purplish flowers in July and August. Height about 6 inches. Native of the Alps and Pyrenees.
Sedum Dasyphyllum or Thick-Leaved Stonecrop :
This is a very attractive little plant, only an inch or two high. The stems are prostrate and weak, clothed with numerous thick, fleshy, almost globular, leaves, deeply glaucous. The flowers are dull white, often pink or tinged with pink. A very pretty rockwork plant, but quite unsuitable for the border or flat surfaces unless very dry. Native of the south of England, but rare – and widely spread in Europe, but not abundant.
Sedum Ewersii or Ewers’s Stonecrop :
A very dwarf species 2 or 3 inches high, with flat, succulent, toothed, deeply-glaucous leaves. The flowers are purplish rose, in pretty terminal corymbs, appearing in July and August. This is one of the most choice and handsome of the dwarf Sedums, and is a beautiful ornament of rockwork or border, but in the latter must be provided with a dry warm soil. Native of the Altai Mountains.
Sedum Fabaria or Large Purple Japan Stonecrop :
The plant grows erect, with stout stems 1 foot or 18 inches high, furnished with broad oval leaves, glaucous and toothed, and standing horizontally on the stems. The flowers are rosy purple, in dense broad corymbs, appearing in September and October. Native of Japan. This is perhaps the handsomest of the tall-growing species. It is worthy of a place in the choicest collection of hardy plants, being very distinctive and beautiful. It is useful for flower-gardening on the bedding method, either in the way of breaking the uniformity of large flat surfaces or for centres to small beds; and where the style is formal and severe its rigid aspect will be found to harmonise well with the surroundings. For this purpose the plant is best divided annually into single crowns in early spring, and assisted with a little heat for a time. It is perfectly hardy, but flowers rather too late to be of much use in cold late districts in Scotland as a flowering plant; but its habit and glaucous hue are valuable and desirable for their own sakes.
Sedum Kamtschaticum or Kamtschatka Stonecrop :
This species has numerous prostrate barren stems clothed with opposite, roundish, regularlytoothed, dark-green flat leaves. The flowering stems ascend a little, terminating in a corymb of deep-yellow flowers, which appear in July and August. Native of Kamtschatka. A very good border species, and handsome also on rockwork. Height, 6 to 9 inches.
Sedum Oppositifolium or Opposite-Leaved Stonecrop -
This species grows only a few inches high. Like the last, it has prostrate barren shoots clothed with opposite wedge-shaped leaves, flat and toothed. The flowers are in corymbs, are dull white, and appear in summer and autumn. Native of the Caucasus. A useful border species.
Sedum Populifolium or Poplar-Leaved Stonecrop :
This is one of the most distinct, though not the most beautiful, of the group. It assumes rather a shrubby habit, about 1 foot high. The leaves are flat, heart-shaped, toothed, and supported on stalks that are lengthy for a Sedum. The flowers are in terminal corymbs, and dull white, with purplish carpels and pistils. Flowers in July and August. Native of Siberia.
Sedum Rhodiola or Rhodiola Rosea, Rose Root Stonecrop :
This is a well-known old-fashioned border plant, common in many cottage-gardens in the country. It is not highly ornamental, but has a good deal of distinctiveness about it. The stems are leafy, stout, and erect, about a foot high. The leaves are oblong, toothed, and slightly glaucous. The flowers are in terminal close corymbs, and each flower contains only one sex, either male or female; and in colour they are in different individuals either yellow or purplish, the former in nature being the most prevalent. Native of the mountains of Britain, and the mountainous countries of Europe and Asia.
Sedum Rupestre or Rock Stonecrop :
This is a dwarf creeping species, forming lowly masses of barren stems, and branches clothed with awl-shaped cylindrical leaves, more or less glaucous in hue. The flowers are in terminal cymes, composed of several recurved branches, and bright yellow, appearing in July and August. Native of Britain and various countries of Europe. Two slightly-differing varieties are circulated in gardens as species under the names reflexum and Forsteri-anum, but they are not desirable in any good collection together.
Sedum Sempervivoides or Houseleek-Like Stonecrop :
This species differs from all the preceding. The leaves are thick and succulent, egg-shaped, with an abrupt sharp point, and somewhat hairy above and below, and arranged in close compressed rosettes. The flowers, in terminal corymbs on erect stems, are dark purple, appearing in July and August. Height from 9 inches to 1 foot. Native of Iberia.
Sedum Sexangulare or Six-Angled Stonecrop :
This is near in aspect to Sedum acre, but is quite distinct. It has the same close mat-like growth, but the leaves are longer, narrower, and darker green. The flowers are bright yellow, in the manner of those of acre, but begin to open as the latter become exhausted, and continue for a couple of months. Native of Britain, but rare, and of other countries of Europe.
Sedum Sieboldii or Siebold’s Stonecrop :
A very distinct and handsome plant. The stems are slender, erect at first – in established plants afterwards arching outwards. Leaves in opposite pairs or threes, roundish, flat, and glaucous, as are the stems and all parts outside the corolla. Flowers pink or rose in handsome corymbs. Native of Japan. Quite hardy, but in cold wet localities in Scotland flowering too late to be of any use, as the flowers are cut up with frost or cold and wet combined. It is a very useful early winter greenhouse plant, when well cultivated in pots. There is a very handsome variegated form.
Sedum Spurium or Fringed Stonecrop :
This is a prostrate species, with numerous barren shoots matted on the surface of the ground. The leaves are numerous, flat, roundish, or wedge-shaped, and toothed, having a fringe of minute sharp semi-transparent hairs on the margin. Flower-stems decumbent at the base, ascending only an inch or two, bearing heavy corymbs of bright rose-coloured flowers. Flowers from July till October. Native of the Caucasus. This is one of the best of the dwarf border species, and beautiful also on rockwork.
Sedum reflexum :
Another yellow-flowering species, growing from 6 inches to a foot high. Leaves crowded, cylindric, re-flexed, about an incli long. Flowers in terminal flat cymes. This species spreads very fast, and has become naturalised in several parts of Britain.
Sedum culture :
They are of the easiest possible culture, thriving in any soil and needing little of it. They are propagated from seeds, or by pulling the plant to pieces and replanting in early spring, but for the florist’s use are best propagated by cuttings in May. If wanted in quantity the cuttings can be put in the coldframe in May in the ground, and when rooted remove the sashes and leave the plants to grow all summer, protecting them with sashes in winter. As soon as the ground is thawed in the spring they should be lifted and potted, when they will make their growth, the appearance of which is so useful in hanging baskets or veranda-boxes.
Few plants will stand the hot sun, dryness and neglect so well as the sedums. For a border or rockery there is of course no need of coldframe or pots.