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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Orostachys sp.

Orostachys sp.
Orostachys sp.

Taisha wrote today's entry with the impression that the plants in the photographs were (maybe) Orostachys furusei, but after some investigation, I determined that one can only be accurate to Orostachys sp. (and, a bit more boldly, Orostachys sp. aff. boehmeri). Most resources either suggest Orostachys furusei is a synonym of Orostachys boehmeri (e.g., Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae) or, like The Plant List, note that the name is unresolved. However, I chose not to re-edit as if the plants were Orostachys boehmeri because: 1) the photographer's observations that these plants compared with others sold & grown as Orostachys boehmeri had different appearances and hardiness; and 2) this decade-old discussion on the Alpine Plants mailing list suggesting cultivated hybrids / selections sold regionally. With that cautionary note in mind, here is an edited version of what Taisha composed:

Today's photographs are of a taxon of Orostachys (image 1 | image 2), of which some are commonly known as dunce cap. They were uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, by Jacki Dougan aka jacki-dee@Flickr. Thanks for the images, Jacki!

Orostachys (e.g, Orostachys boehmeri) are members of the Crassulaceae or stonecrop family. The genus Orostachys consists of about 12 species. All are succulent, much like their relatives, the sedums and sempervivums. The genus name comes from the Greek oros, meaning "mountain", and stachys, meaning "spike", referring to both the mountain habitat where many species reside and the spike of flowers. When trying to research this taxon as Orostachys furusei, I found many additional names, including Orostachys boehmeri, Orostachys malacophylla var. boehmeri, Orostachys iwarenge var. boehmeri, Orostachys aggregata var. boehmeri, Sedum furusei, Sedum boehmeri, and Sedum iwarenge var. furusei. This makes it more difficult in my mind to find information, as it's scattered about listed under one name or another.

Some information that I did find is that dunce caps are native to eastern Asia. Plants of the species I've seen images of form a basal rosette of fleshy lavender-grey leaves with spreading stolons. After two or three years of growth, these monocarpic perennials will set a spike and flower. Once flowered, the rosette will die back, leaving offsets of the plant that haven't flowered for the next year. If a rosette doesn't bloom, it will wither in the fall and return in the spring. These attractive species are often used as groundcovers in gardens or planted among other low-growing succulents on green roofs. Generally, species of Orostachys are suitable to grow in containers, with full sun to partial shade. The soil should be allowed to dry between watering.

3 Comments

Nadia commented:

Interesting!

Peony Fan commented:

Beautiful photos and interesting write-up. I love these small scale succulents.

Jessica commented:

That's a lovely plant and beautiful habit and flower. I'd be happy to have that in my garden any time.

Comments are closed.

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