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Plant Highlight: Sedum clavatum

May 2014

South-central Mexico has an amazing variety of Sedum species, and one of these is Sedum clavatum, native to the State of Mexico, to the west of Mexico City. Before it was given its scientific name in 1975, it was referred to as the Tiscalatengo Gorge Sedum, after the canyon in which it grows.

Sedum clavatum grows as a small-scale ground-cover, branching and also making offsets from the base to form a clump which remains short (about 4 inches high, or 10 cm) but spreads outward over time. It prefers light shade rather than full sun, except in cool coast-side locations. Though not terrifically cold-hardy, it can take overnight temperatures into the upper 20’s F  (to -3 C).

Each stem of Sedum clavatum ends in a rosette of chubby club-shaped leaves which are milky bluish in color, sometimes flushed with pink at the tips. The leaves are up to an inch long (25 mm), and the compact rosettes are up to 2 inches across (50 mm).

Sedum clavatum comes into flower in the spring, blooming in late April and May at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. The short inflorescence emerges from the side of the stem a little below the growing tip, arching upward and not overtopping the rosettes by much. It has chubby bracts on the lower portion, looking much like miniature versions of the leaves, and ends in a tight cluster of small star-like white flowers subtended by pink-tipped sepals. The flowers are a little over a half-inch across (about 14 mm).