General Information   |   Species   |   Hybrids   |   Cultivars


First described by Linnaeus in Sp. Pl. 465 (1753).Tthis is a very variable species with a wide distribution: Pyrenees, Alps, Appennines, Carpathians and Corsica. Through the years many names have been applied to this species by botanists and horticulturists, the following is a shortened list of names covering S. montanum : S. debile, S. alpestre, S. frigidum. S. monticolum, S. minimum, S. thomasii, S. macranthum, S. pygmaeum, S. anomalum, S. hispidulum, S. pauciflorum, S. candollei and S. subalpinum. This synonymy obviously is due to this species' wide range of polymorphic forms occuring naturally with such a wide geographical distribution. Confusion is also apt to arise owing to its readiness to cross with other species in nature, these are S. arachnoideum, S. grandiflorum, S. nevadense, S. tectorum and S. wulfenii. Also in gardens S. montanum interbreeds with other species of Sempervivum, producing an endless range of hybrids, varieties, and forms.

Cultivation of most forms of S. montanum is easy, growing well in most soils, although in nature the species tends to be calcifuge.


S. montanum var. montanum.

This variety representing the type is found growing throughout most of the natural localities in which the species is found. The rosettes are not more than 2 cm in diameter with leaves wholly dull green, oblanceolate, rather acute without a red-brown tip (which is present in some small forms). Leaves also have a finely and densely viscid-pubescence on both face and back of leaves, marginal cilia scarcely longer than pubescence. The flower-stems are short and leafy bearing a few rather large flowers with long and narrow petals of a violet-purple colour. Offsets are numerous and borne on slender leafy stems 1 to 3 cm long, soon forming a dense mat of rosettes.


S. montanum var. burnatii.

A very large S. montanum with light green rosettes usually open, up to 8 cm in diameter, leaves obovate-cuneate, up to 6 mm wide. The offsets are produced on long, strong stems; flower-stem twice as tall as in the var. montanum and flowers of a lighter purple. The whole plant can look very similar to some forms of S. grandiflorum, but lacks the strong odour of that species. It is a native of the south-western Alps and Pyrenees.


S. montanum var. stiriacum.

A variety with rosettes 2 to 4,5 cm in diameter, more open than the type varietas. Leaves are oblanceolate, cospicuously tipped (in the summer) with dark red-brown. The marginal cilia is distinctly longer than hairs on leaf-surface. Its flowers are larger than the type and often of a deeper colour.

This varietas occurs locally in the eastern Alps.

The following clones are common in cultivation:


S. montanum var. stiriacum from Mauterndorf.

Slightly smaller rosettes than the above with narrow leaves, apex colouring not so heavy.


S. montanum var. stiriacum ‘Lloyd Praeger’.

This cultivar has somewhat flattish rosettes, leaves heavily tipped with dark red-brown.


S. montanum ‘Rubrum’.

A colourful form with medium-sized rosettes of mahogany-red during the summer months. Origin of this form not known. 

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