Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Unusual Late-Summer Succulent


This attractive late summer wild flower is orpine Sedum telephium, which is a rather uncommon native here in North East England. Like all Sedum species it has succulent, water retentive leaves and looks more adapted to life in Mediterranean regions than at these latitudes but, unusually for the genus, it’s also quite at home in shady places. This plant was growing at the base of a hedgerow in the Derwent valley, where I have known it for over 20 years. Orpine is closely related to the garden ‘ice plant’ Sedum spectabile from China and Japan and sometimes forms hybrids with it. Most records for the plant tend to be close to habitation and it’s difficult to be sure whether the plants in question are genuinely wild or whether they are descended from plants that were dug up, cultivated and have since escaped back into the wild and are establishing new populations, perhaps even carrying S.spectabile genes if they have hybridised in gardens. It’s probably one of a number of native species, like primroses and columbine, where there has been regular interchange between gardens and the wider countryside.

4 comments:

  1. Such delicate looking flowers in the first Phil.

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  2. It is a very attractive plant, Keith...and very popular with bees and butterflies

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  3. That's a beautiful flower head, Phil. I assume the buds all open into the tiny pink stars.

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  4. Hi Emma, Yes, they all open eventually, but over quite a long period.It's quite a late bloomer.

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