Part of the Rosette-forming Crassulaceae Project

Kingdom   Plantae
Phylum    Magnoliophyta
Class     Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons) 
Sub-Class Rosidae
Order     Rosales
Family    Crassulaceae
Genus     Dudleya
Species   Approximately 60
A polycarpic member of the succulent family Crassulaceae very similar in appearance to sempervivum, echeveria, jovibarba, etc. The primary visible difference between dudleya and other similar stonecrops is that dudleya, when in proper light, tends to have a very glaucous (and sometimes stark white) leaves. As well, as the plant ages, it will form a stout stem. Dudleya's long slender leaves range in colour from white to fuzzy blue-green and are often edged in startling orange, red and purple, or covered in powder, called farina. Many species will have bristly hairs (called cilia) on the leaf margins or covering the entire leaf. Another visible difference is the flowering stem (inflorescence), on Dudleya this grows laterally from the base of the rosette and is usually pink. Small Spring and Summertime blooms are usually bell-shaped with five radiating petals. It is often seen growing in stone crevasses or sand dunes with little or no organic soil.

Dudleya is native to the arid western United States (in particular, the Southwest, Northern California, and Oregon), Baja California. Like sempervivum, it is a frost-tolerant plant, and will survive temperatures of 20° and less (fahrenheit).

After having been previously considered a part of the Cotyledon and Echeveria genera, the genus Dudleya was formed, named after the Stanford Professor, William Dudley.


Live Forver, Canyon Live Forever, Rock Live Forever (note the name similar to the translation of sempervivum, always live).

As with most Crassulaceae, dudleya can tolerate very poor soil conditions, so long as it is well draining. Bright light is integral to the proper growth of this genus. Plants grown in low-light will lose their color, grow tall and spindly and will eventually die due to etiolation.

Allow the soil to completely dry out before watering, and be careful to avoid getting water on the leaves (this is of utmost importance, particularly in plants with farina). Dudleya is FAR more likely to survive under-watering than over-watering. Unlike many crassulaceae, dudleya should be watered during it's dormant stage. Although it will not actively grow, it needs water in the hot summers.

Although this plant is not uncommon to succulent hobbyist, it is rare to see the casual gardener with plants of this genus. Species vary in difficulty.

The plant propagates itself through offshoots, and given time one plant will form a dense mat of many. In cultivation, propagation is usually achieved through gathering and planting seeds, or division and repotting of the offsets. When a "pup" has established its own roots, it can be separated from the mother plant.

No pruning is necessary, although dudleya will benefit from a beheading (stem cutting) if the plant becomes tall and spindly or etiolated. Be sure to keep the plant dry, and remove any leaves which have died. This will help to avoid rot and bugs. Avoid touching the healthy leaves of the plant, as your body oils will leave marks or remove farina.

  • To save a plant which has begin to grow tall due to a lack of light (etiolation), cut the elongated stem as close to the rosette as possible. Allow the cut to callous by leaving it in the open air for a few days. Dip the cut into a rooting hormone (such as RootOne, which can be purchased almost anywhere you buy plants) and place into slightly moist succulent mix potting soil (even better is very lightly moist sand). Soon this will form it's own roots and grow as normal.
In the event of an unhealthy plant, the first thing to examine is your watering habits. The most common problem is root rot due to overwatering. If the soil is too wet, don't hope it will safely dry out so long as you don't water it for a while. Replace the soil immediately, but be very careful in handling your dudleya.

One of the most common pests to houseplants is the mealybug, and your dudleya may fall prey to this pest. However, due to the tightly packed leaves, more often than not the mealybugs will attack the roots. This makes them far less visible than mealybugs which attack leaf-stem junctions. The symptoms of a root mealybug infestation is slowed or stopped growth (though in summer this is a normal sign of dormancy). If this occurs without apparent cause, remove the plant from the pot and examine the roots. A white cottony substance on the roots and in the soil is a sure sign of mealybug infestation. Remove all soil and wash the roots gently. Remove any roots which appear damaged with a sharp sterile knife or scissors. Let them dry very throroughly before replanting.
  • Some species are considered an edible and medicinal plant. The leaves and stems are steamed or boiled
  • Some species are considered threatened (Dudleya stolonifera, Dudleya cymosa marcescens, Dudleya traskiae, and many others). This is due mostly to alien animal species which feed on these plants/
  • Dudleya brittonii, from Baja California, forms huge rosettes that can reach over two feet in diameter.
  • Dudleya grows almost exclusively in areas where frosts are quite uncommon, yet is very frost hardy.

references: Darren H. Burton, of San Diego State University, The Ruth Bancroft Garden

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