Sedum pulchellum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: widow's cross
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Crassulaceae
Native Range: Eastern and southeastern United States
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in shallow, rocky, limestone to sandstone, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils of moderate to low fertility in full sun. Good tolerance for light shade. Also tolerates moist (not wet) soils with good drainage. Plants freely self-seed. This sedum most commonly grows as an annual with seeds germinating in fall or early spring. Plants can live for more than one year. Steyermark describes the plants native to the southwestern part of Missouri as being winter annuals.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sedum pulchellum, commonly called widow's cross, is a stonecrop with ascending to spreading pink to light green stems that typically rise to 4-12" tall. It is native to rocky limestone outcrops, ledges and glades from Georgia and Kentucky west to Kansas and eastern Texas. In Missouri, it is primarily found in the western Ozarks and unglaciated prairie sections in the southwestern 1/4 of the State. Alternate, smooth, stem-clasping, cylindrical, pale green to lime green leaves (to 1" long) are densely arranged along the stem. Stem is topped by a horizontally branched cyme of tiny flowers which bloom in May-June. Each flower (to 1/2" across) has 4 pink petals, 4 green sepals, 4 pistils and 8 stamens. Flowers are followed by dehiscent seed pods which develop in June and July. Plants brown up and drop leaves as summer progresses, with the seed pods ripening to brown by fall before splitting open to release their seed.

Genus name comes from the Latin word sedeo meaning to sit in reference to the general growing habit of many of the sedums (they sit and sprawl over rocks).

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word pulchellus meaning beautiful in reference to the flowers.

Plants in the genus Sedum are commonly called stonecrops because they are typically found in the wild growing on rocky or stony areas.

Common name of widow's cross is in reference to the four flower petals of each flower which are arranged in the pattern of a cross.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails. Scale may occur.

Garden Uses

Sunny border fronts or rock gardens. On rock walls. Best massed or in groups. Site in areas where both the foliage and flowers may be appreciated.