Taxon

Sempervivum tectorum

 
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Sempervivum tectorum - hen and chicks, house leek, thunderplant
Image: Janice Tucker
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Common name: hen and chicks, house leek, thunderplant
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrop)
Distribution: Europe, Morrocco
Habitat: Rocky outcrops, cliffs
Hardiness: USDA Zone 3
Life form: Cactus/succulent
Occurrence in New Mexico: Exotic
Growing Conditions: Sempervivum tectorum is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, France and Spain) and to Morocco. It grows on rocky outcrops, stone walls, rock piles, and adjacent to rocks along cliff bases. It has naturalized in many parts of the world, including the southwestern United States. S. tectorum is highly variable and hundreds of cultivars have been propagated and sold for nearly 200 years; therefore, there is considerable variation in naturalized populations. It grows in sandy or gravelly soil in full sun, but will tolerate light shade. It is drought tolerant and overwatering should be avoided. Plants spread by offsets (chicks) attached to the parental rosette (hens) by stout axillary stolons. Individual rosettes die after blooming and setting seed. In Europe, sempervivum was once planted on roofs of houses to ward off lightning and fires, to hold slates in place, and for its edible leaves. It is often planted today on green roofs. It is also planted in rock gardens, along stone walls or rock crevices, and massed as a ground cover.
Links: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN-Taxonomy)SEINet

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