Montag, 6. Januar 2014

Plant of the Day (January 7th, 2014) - Sedum kamtschaticum Fisch. & C. A. Mey.

The first plant of 2014 is Sedum kamtschaticum Fisch. & C. A. Mey. from the Crassulaceae family. In German, the species is known as “Kamtschatka-Fetthenne” (“Kamtschatka” is a Russian peninsula in the Far East). The common English names of this plant are “Kamtschatka Stonecrop” or “Orange Stonecrop”.

1) Description

S. kamtschaticum is a small, perennial plant, which can reach heights between 10 and 30 centimeters (4.0 to 12.0 inches). However, there are many offshoots, which spread from short rhizomes. Thereby, the species grows in dense cushions, which are about 23 to 31 centimeters (9.0 to 12.5 inches) in diameter. As with the most species from the Genus Sedum the plant has a thick an fleshy stem, which makes it very resistant towards dryness and drought.

S. kamtschaticum - habitus

This also applies for the flat leaves, with their thick, glossy cuticula, which provides extra-protection against to evaporation. They have a dark-green color on both sides and are cuneate to inverted lanceolate. The margin of the leaves is irregularly serrated or lobbed, while the petiole is missing or very short. The leaves are also curved slightly inwards to create a groove, which collects water.

 S. kamtschaticum - leaves; you can see the glossy 
cuticula of the leaves

S. kamtschaticum is an evergreen plant. However, the color of the stalk change to a reddish pink during autumn. Later, the leaves get the same color before they are dropped (see my pictures, which I made in autumn). The species endures the cold months in form of a green rosette.

S. kamtschaticum - the star-shaped flowers with
their bright petals

The inflorescence is a cyme, which is rich of small flowers. Each Flower is fivefold, so we have five petals, five sepals and so on. This gives the whole flower a star-shaped appearance. The petals have a distinctive, golden-yellow to orange color. Flowering time is in midsummer between May and June.

The ripe fruits are follicles. In botany, a follicle is a single carpel, which contains more than two seeds and opens after ripening to release these seeds. In this case, the follicles of S. kamtaschaticum are made from the five, orange carpels in the center of the flower

2) Distribution

As I said it before, S. kamtaschaticum is native to the Far East but not only on the Kamtschatka peninsula. It also grows from the Ural mountains to Mongolia and Siberia. Here, the plant has to endure extreme dryness, hot temperatures in the summer and very cold winters. As a result, the plant is highly tolerant towards these factors. Its succulent habitus protects it against drought and to grow in dense cushion is typical for plants in regions with such cold winters. By the low growth, the plant is covered with snow during the harsh months, what protects the vegetation buds against freeze.

S. kamtschaticum - another view of the plant.
the red stalk is visible
Because of its high tolerance toward drought, S. kamtschaticum is also a very popular plant for gardens and rooftops. It's often planted on rooftops in order to give them a green and more natural flair.

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