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Sedum ternatum

Phonetic Spelling
SEE-dum ter-NAY-tum
Description

Sedum is a genus of succulent, herbaceous, evergreen perennials with fleshy, flat or rounded leaves depending on the species. In general, the plant is upright and spreads along the ground. The genus has over 300 species, though many have been moved to the genus Hylotelephium. The genus name comes from the Latin word sedeo meaning to sit in reference to the habit of many of the sedum species to sit and sprawl over rocks. In the case of S. ternatum, the species name means in threes and refers to the leaves which appear in whorls of three.

Sedum ternatum, or Mountain Stonecrop, matures to a 6 inch high plant with a 1 foot spread and four-parted white flowers. Like many of its genus, it is often used as ground cover. The stems will creep along the ground or over rocks, forming dense mats. The stems usually send up a single flowering branch, 4 to 8 inches high, and several shorter, leafier, non-flowering branches. Stems break away and die in winter, leaving newly rooted plants separated from the mother plant. The leaves tend to fall off easily; however, the fallen leaves can be used to propagate new plants. Some references describe this plant as mildly toxic if ingested, while others do not. In any event, stems and leaves may be eaten raw when very young and tender. As the stems and leaves age, but before the plants flower, the edible parts may still be eaten if they are briefly cooked. The sap can irritate the skin of some people and the leaves, eaten in quantity, can cause stomach upsets.

In nature, Mountain Stonecrop is often found in moist forests, wooded ravines, coves, bottomlands, or shaded rock outcrops or river banks. Plant 6 to 12 inches apart in a site with partial to full shade in well-drained soil. It will tolerate full sun, seldom needs watering, and will grow in moist soils with good drainage. The plant tolerates shade and moist soils better than most other sedums as well as drought and heat, rocky and poor soils. It establishes itself quickly, but may do less well in cold temperatures.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No serious diseases or insect problems, except for occasional slugs and snails. Avoid wet or poorly drained conditions.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
'Alba'
Tags:
#deciduous#perennials#semi-evergreen#succulent#fall interest#cpp#NC native#herb garden culinary#children's garden#playground plant#groundcover#pollinator plant#native wildflower#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#bird friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#Audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
'Alba'
Tags:
#deciduous#perennials#semi-evergreen#succulent#fall interest#cpp#NC native#herb garden culinary#children's garden#playground plant#groundcover#pollinator plant#native wildflower#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#bird friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#Audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sedum
    Species:
    ternatum
    Family:
    Crassulaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Leaf Cutting
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East Canada and Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    Maine to Georgia and west, from Michigan to Iowa and Arkansas
    Wildlife Value:
    attracts butterflies
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Textural
    Edibility:
    The stems and leaves, when very young and tender, may be eaten raw. Later, until they flower, they may be briefly cooked. When ingested in large quantities, can cause stomach upset.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Succulent
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Dense
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Displays from May to July. Collect the very small, dark-brown seeds 2 to 3 weeks after the plant flowers. Air-dry and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flower stalk branches into three curved or horizontal branches of white flowers, 4-5 petals with sharp points and 5 green sepals. Clusters of tiny white, star-like flowers (to 1/2" wide) with purplish stamens. Blooms from April to June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Ovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Flat or rounded leaves. Lower leaves are spatulate. Non-flowering stems have 1/2 to 1 inch flat, oval, medium green leaves arranged in whorls of three. Flower stems have smaller leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Description:
    Arching stem
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Rock Wall
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Poor Soil