Hylotelephium ewersii Hylotelephium ewersii Hylotelephium ewersii Hylotelephium anacampseros Hylotelephium anacampseros Hylotelephium anacampseros

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Hylotelephium telephium

  • Name also: Livelong, Frog’s-stomach, Harping Johnny, Life-everlasting, Live-forever, Midsummer-men, Orphan John, Witch’s Moneybags
  • Latin synonyms: Sedum telephium, Hylotelephium telephioides
  • Family: Stonecrop Family – Crassulaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Roots strong, tuberous.
  • Height: 15–50 (6–20 in.) cm. Stem limp–ascending–erect, usually unbranched, often reddish.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), greenish white–pale yellowish–reddish, approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) broad; petals five, 3–5 mm (0.12–0.2 in.) long. Sepals 5. Stamens 10. Gynoecium separate, pistils 5. Inflorescence a dense, umbellate cyme.
  • Leaves: Alternate or opposite, often whorled, stalkless, often amplexicaul. Blade elliptic–ovate–long, with toothed–curved–entire margins, thick, glabrous, fleshy, green–bluish green, sometimes with red dots.
  • Fruit: 5 united, many-seeded follicles.
  • Habitat: Seashores, rocks, precipices, ridges, meadows, ridges, gravel pits, dry-stone walls, walls, fields, banks, yards, gardens, wasteland. Also an ornamental, often wild.
  • Flowering time: July–September.

Apart from thick and juicy leaves, orpine also stores water in its swollen root tubers to help it survive dry periods. It can last a long time without wilting and was used in the old days to predict the outcome of love affairs. Love magic was also made by hanging two orpine stems from the roof: if they wilted towards each other there was no reason to worry, but if they moved apart it was a sign of trouble ahead.

Orpine grows as a native of southern and south-west Finland and on the west coast as far up as the top of the Bay of Bothnia. Inland the species is only common to any extent as far north as Jyväskylä. Further north it only grows here and there. The majority of inland stands are probably those that people have made by transplanting them. Escapes from cultivation tend to be in culturally influenced yards, dry meadows, roadsides, railway embankments and on waste ground; in the wild it favours rocks, stony places and sandy areas.

Three subspecies of orpine grow in Finland, of which two are native. Ssp. maximum grows in the west and south-west. Its stems are quite limp, and its flowers are yellowish white. Another native subspecies that grows in the south-east of the country is ssp. ruprechtii, which is also quite limp with yellowish flowers. It can be told apart by the clearly bluish waxy covering on its opposite leaves. Ssp. telephium is also cultivated as an ornamental in Finland, and it also escapes into the wild in places in south and south-west Finland. Hybrids between orpine and ssp. telephium are also common native perennials.

Orpine is a food plant for large and endangered Apollo butterfly grubs, and the flowers are particularly attractive to bees. The dried out stem stays rigid and erect throughout the winter, and the plant spreads its small seeds on the wind from early winter onwards.

Pink Mongolian Stonecrop & Love-restorer

Hylotelephium ewersii & Hylotelephium anacampseros
(Sedum ewersii & Sedum anacampseros)

Both pink Mongolian stonecrop (Showy Stonecrop) and love-restorer (Evergreen Orpine) look like orpine but their flowers are smaller and they are flowering later in autumn. Both species are popular in rockeries and can escape into the wild but not very far from the original place. The arrangement of pink Mongolian stonecrop’s leaves is opposite, love-restorer’s spiral.

Other species from the same family

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