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Plant Highlight: Sedum treleasei

March 2006

Plants classified in the genus Sedum are widespread around the northern hemisphere, occurring in Asia and Europe as well as North America. This is the largest genus in the Stonecrop Family (Crassulaceae), but perhaps it is too large for its own good, since some of the plants included in it seem to be closer to other genera than they are to each other. It would seem to be only a matter of time until this group is divided into smaller and more coherent genera that are truly closely related to each other. Some of the largest and most interesting sedums come from Mexico, and many of these are excellent garden subjects. A few, like Sedum rubrotinctum (often called “Pork and Beans”) and Sedum praealtum, are widely used in California gardens, but many others deserve wider use. One of these is Sedum treleasei, which has grown happily at the Ruth Bancroft Garden for years, but is still not often seen in nurseries.

Sedum treleasei has pale blue-green thick and fleshy leaves about 1inch to 1½ inches long, somewhat flattened on top and rounded below. Older leaves often take on a yellow tinge at the tips and margins, and sometimes there is a flush of pink on the leaf tips. Plants develop stems which may reach a foot or more in height, and they branch to form a good-sized clump in time. Flowering commences at the end of February or in early March, and extends into April. The flower stalks are 5 to 6 inches long, adorned with bracts which are miniature replicas of the leaves. Each stalk ends in a cluster of bright yellow, star-like flowers about a ½ inch across.

Like most succulents, this sedum prefers good drainage and a sunny position. It is easy to grow and attractive all year round. It is cold-hardy to at least the mid-twenties Fahrenheit, so we do not need to cover it in winter. Sometimes older plants may become too leggy, or accumulate dead stems that detract from its appearance. This is easily remedied by cutting off and re-planting the upper stems, which root easily.