Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plant profile: Dudleya

Dudleya pulverulenta
(Chalk Liveforever)
You know me - I like a cute little rosette-forming succulent and I like native plants. Well, Dudleyas fit both criteria. Yes, I'm a fan.

The genus Dudleya is a group of 45 species named after William Russel Dudley, a professor of botany at Stanford in the late 1800s to early 1900s. They started out in the genus Cotyledon, and got shunted over to become Echeverias, but finally got their own genus thanks to the aforementioned Billy-Russ Dudleya.

Dudleya traskiae (Santa
Barbara Island Liveforever
Latin name: Dudleya ("DUD-lee-ah")
Common name: Liveforever, Bluff Lettuce
Originally from: Southwestern North America
Blooms: Spring brings stalks of small star-shaped flowers in yellow and orange shades.
Light: Full sun, part shade
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water!
Where to find in P. Garden: The cactus wall has several species along the edge. We have a lovely big Dudleya pulverulenta (Chalk Liveforever) all ghostly white. We also have Dudleya farinosa, quite a few Dudleya cymosa (Canyon Liveforever) and a group of Dudleya traskiae (Santa Barbara Island Liveforever). We have three tiny, whitish Dudleya virens ssp. hassei (Catalina Island Liveforever) too.

Dudleya virens ssp. hassei
(Catalina Island Liveforever)
They get their common name "Liveforever" from the fact that they live quite a long time. Which is not forever, per se, and actually probably more like 15-20 years, but it can seem like it when you're waiting for them to grow to a large and impressive size (some up to 2' across, and witha  trunk up to 2' long!)

They hate to be soggy, so Dudleya should be planted at an angle. This prevents water from being trapped in the leaves, which causes rotting. They can also suffer from mealybugs but a good systemic insecticide with imidacloprid or the like with sort them out.

Dudleya farinosa
(Bluff Lettuce)
Biochemical factoid: Plants in this family have a specialized form of metabolizing - Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), a photosynthetic adaptation to high light, low moisture environments.

The stomates (pores) on the leaves of this plant open at night to allow the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the form of an organic acid. The stomates then close during the day when the stored carbon dioxide is used for photosynthesis. Everybody got that?


  1. ooh, could you go over that again please?

  2. Yes: Plants in this family have a specialized form of... Wait! Didn't you take notes?


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