June Plant of the Month (2007) Sedum Morganianum

A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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June Plant of the Month (2007) Sedum Morganianum

Post by templegatejohn »

Sedum morganianum E. Walther


Growth Habits: Sedum morganianum is a member of the Crassulaceae family and as its common name suggests it grows in long strands which make it perfect for a hanging basket. The stems can grow as long as 4 feet (1.2 m) in a well grown specimen The individual leaves are so tightly packed that the stem itself cannot usually be seen. The easiest way to describe the leaves is that they are somewhat banana shaped coming to a point at one end. They have a greyish white bloom on them and this rubs off if the plant is handled too much. Sedum is the Stonecrop genus of the Crassulaceae family.

Scientific name: Sedum morganianum

Common names: Donkey tail, or Burro tail

Synonym: None known.

Etymology: Sedum means Sedentary, to sit. Morganianum, named for Dr. Meredith Morgan, who first grew the species

Origin: Honduras and Southern Mexico

My own plant certainly seems to prefer light shade, but the plant should never be in full sun particularly if you live where the sun can be fierce.

Compost: The plant benefits from a reasonably rich compost, but Sedums are not heavy feeders so do not try to grow the plant too quickly as the tightness of the leaves will be lost.

Water: It will take plenty of water as long as there is adequate drainage.

Flower: The flowers are pink and appear in the spring time.

Min. temp:
This plant will certainly not stand any frost, even a single night of it will probably herald the demise of the plant.

It is not easy to keep a plant looking in good condition. As has been said above, careless handling removes some of the bloom on the leaves and this spoils the appearance of the plant. Also the plant has a tendency to drop leaves for no apparent reason. Plants can be started fairly easily either from a portion of stem, or even single leaves.

S. morganianum is one of the few plants whose native habitat is unknown. Its discovery in cultivation is quite an interesting story. In 1935, Eric Walther, the botanist at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, was travelling through Mexico's state of Vera Cruz seeking new Echeveria plants. While he was waiting for his guide in Coatepec, a small town near Jalapa and at the center of the local coffee-growing district, a very aggressive boy literally dragged him into the sales yard of "Jardin Flotante," a small nursery owned by his father. Upon entering the nursery, Walther encountered an incredible sight: growing in numerous tin cans attached to the walls was a pale green succulent with pendent meter-long "tails" that nearly concealed the house. He had never seen anything like it. Walther purchased several of the unknown plants and later that day saw them growing in cans under the eaves of a coffee planter's shack and again in Banderilla's renowned gardens.
Walther could find no information on the plant's natural habitat nor on its flowering characteristics. Indeed, he did not even know to which genus it belonged. The plant's identity remained an enigma for over three years until Dr. Meredith Morgan, hobbyist and expert grower from Richmond, California, induced the plant to bloom in his garden—the first time the plant flowered outside of Mexico. The pink flowers that appeared on the tips of the long branches enabled Walther to describe this new species as Sedum morganianum; it appeared in Vol. 10, No. 3,of the CSSA Journal, September 1938. He named it in honor of Dr. Morgan.

Comments: The plant is very striking even though it rarely flowers and is well worth growing. I cannot remember a time when I did not have this particular species in my greenhouse. The trick is to keep growing a succession of plants of varying ages and then you will always have a replacement ready. Warning: The plant can cause a minor skin irritation or allergic reaction in some people. Personally I have never encountered any problems.