Saturday, 7 April 2012

Common Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)

The Common Houseleek is a hardy evergreen low growing perennial which is naturalised in the British Isles. Other names include Thunder Plant, Liveforever, Jupiter's Eye, Thor's Beard, Aaron's Rod and Hens & Chicks. It is very well known and often seen growing in dry shingle, old sinks, walls, roofs or rocky places. It has the ability to store a lot of water in its thick chubby leaves and so does well in increasingly dry areas of the country. Folklore tells us that it has the ability to protect a house from lightning and fire. Since it contains a large cache of water, there may be some truth in this.

Common Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)









Growing Houseleeks

Houseleeks are very easy to grow but do not like damp shady conditions so ensure they are planted out in a dry sunny position. These plants are very hardy and will survive extremes of weather including snow. They can be grown from seed but are more usually propagated from offsets which are little baby plants or 'chicks' that grow around the edge of the mother plant or 'hen'. These offsets are held in place by a flexible stolen or cord. The little babies can be gently prised away from the mother plant and potted on to become a fresh new plant. If growing from seed, sow the seeds on the top of compost in pots and cover with sand or grit. When the seedlings emerge they can be potted on and eventually planted outside. Houseleeks usually grow for several years before they produce a tall pink star shaped flower. They are monocarpic and plants will die after they flower. Flowers do set seed and will germinate naturally in garden soil producing new plants. However, plants readily cross pollinate and hybridisation is very common.

Raw Edible Parts

The young shoots and chubby leaves of this succulent are edible raw. They are crunchy and similar to cucumbers in taste and texture. The leaves can also be juiced to make a drink. Other species are not necessarily edible. This plant stores water in the leaves in a similar way to the Aloe Vera plant. In fact it can be used on sunburn or for other accidental burns in the same way. It is a good Aloe Vera substitute because it can be left to its own devices growing outside and is therefore easier to look after. In large doses the Houseleek can be purgative and upset the tum so take it easy if trying it for the first time.

8 comments:

  1. I think you mean lightning rather than lightening!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where can one purchase this plant?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did some intense search and found this link on amazon. In case other need it, here it. You can copy and paste the link into your browser if you run into trouble.

    is:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Sempervivum+tectorum

    ReplyDelete
  4. So are all of the Sempervivum Houseleeks edible?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Other Sempervivum species may or may not be edible. We're afraid that's all the information we have at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I never realized but I have a huge cluster of hens and chicks by my garage.

    ReplyDelete