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NUTTALLIANUM  Rafinesque, 1832

Synonyms :

Sedum nuttallii  Eaton (1833)

Sedum torreyi  G.Don (1834)

Sedum sparsiflorum  Nuttall (1840)


Distribution : Central USA (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri) ; open areas in shallow soil, commonly over granite or sandstone.



Description (according to 't Hart & Bleij in IHSP, 2003) :


Glabrous small annual herbs with erect or decumbent, simple or branched smooth stems from a slender taproot.


Leaves alternate, narrowly lanceolate-elliptic or oblong, obtuse, shortly spurred, subterete to rarely globular, 3 - 6 x 1,5 - 2 mm, pale or bluish-green, widely divergent.


Inflorescences : Flowering branches erect, 2,4 - 10,7 cm, inflorescences cymes with 1 - 3 branches, bracts leaf-like.


FIowers 5-merous, sessile or subsessile, sepals basally free, shortly spurred, very unequal, lanceolate or lanceolate-oblong, acute, yellow-green, 0,6 - 3 x 0,4 - 1,5 mm, petals free, elliptic-oblong, with a mucronate appendage, slightly cucullate, yellow, 2 - 4 mm, spreading, filaments yellow, anthers yellow.


Cytology : 2n = 20


Another member of the S. parvum group (Nesom & Turner 1996).


Ray Stephenson (Sedum, Cultivated Stonecrops, 1994, p 204) :


Sedum nuttallianum is the only yellow-flowered, annual North American species in cultivation. Cultivated seed has been widely distributed by Micki Crozier of Kansas to enthusiasts all over the world. It is still rare in cultivation, but hopefully will be successfully perpetuated. Dainty, blue-green plants produce a carpet of yellow flowers in midsummer. Clausen (1975, 329) wrote, "plants vary [in size] from tiny individuals of 5 mm tall [0.2 in] with a single small flower, up to spreading, branched plants with stems 18 cm [7 in] tall and as many as 177 flowers."


Habitat : This eastern stonecrop grows on the Southern and Western Osark plateaux and on the adjacent Great Plains in shallow soils or bare rock where there is no competition from other plants, usually in sites shaded for part of the day. The clone in cultivation came from seed collected near Sedan, Kansas, which grew in dry moss on sandstone in full sun.


Main points of distinction : This species is more likely to be confused with a European annual than another North American species. It is a somewhat gangling, floriferous plant, as is the nature of many annual Sedum species. Kyphocarpic, sessile, yellow flowers are carried on scorpioid branches. Sepals are free, unequal, and spurred. Petals are mucronate. Stamens and anthers are yellow, and nectaries are just visible.


Variation : Environment can cause tremendous variation.


Horticulture : Micki Crozier (pers. com.), who has successfully perpetuated the species for several years, suggests that seed be gathered as leaves wither. This is a delightful unpretentious species for a scree garden where it can self-seed. Glaucous blue-green plants are colorful against a dark background.

Photo Ray Stephenson

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